Maliau Basin – The Lost World of Borneo

20 March 2016

For the longest time, I had been wanting to visit the Lost World of Borneo. Maliau Basin is one of Borneo’s least-travelled gems due to its relative inaccessibility, high price and difficulty for foreigners to arrange a trip. The Maliau Basin Conservation Zone remains one of the most pristine rainforests of Borneo. It’s a self-contained forest, placed inside a saucer-shaped basin surrounded by cliffs and promising the possibility of rare and endemic flora and fauna.

In this trip, I stayed at the Maliau Basin Studies Centre (MBSC), situated on the outer edge of Maliau Basin.

It would ideally have turned out to be an exotic fauna buffet, but the trip clashed with El Nino and the resulting drought; the longest since the place was set up 20 years ago.

Nevertheless, we tried our luck on the trails and had several interesting finds. This post documents some of those, along with a few behind-the-scenes shots to give a more intimate view of the trip. Plain looking “record” shots were excluded; feel free to check out the complete collection from this trip on my Maliau Basin Flickr albums.

Many thanks to Dennis for the logistics and administration, Chris for loaning his equipment for the milkyway shoot, Francis and Nick for the company during our endless walks into the trails!

    Behind the Scenes

    Random photos of the trip to show what actually went on!

  1. Peninsular Malaysia

    Brief view of the Malaysian Peninsular before we went above the clouds.

  2. DSC_1282
  3. Arrival in Tawau

    Arrived in the tiny airport of Tawau, as long as an MRT station in Singapore.

  4. DSC_1288
  5. Sponsored by IKEA

    Dedicated van to bring us to Maliau Basin — approximately 5 hours on the road from the airport.

  6. DSC_1284
  7. Teatiam

    No Kopitiam, Teatiam also can! Got hungry really quick and had to grab a bite.

  8. DSC_1289
  9. Palm Oil Plantations

    Sadly, we only saw palm oil plantations during most of the 5-hour journey.

  10. DSC_1291
  11. In the Van

    After 4 hours, still no forest but at least we no longer see palm trees!

  12. DSC_1292
  13. Registration Centre

    Arrived at the registration centre, with another hour to go on a 4WD.

  14. DSC_1297
  15. Where is the Milkyway?

    While waiting for the 4WD to arrive, Chris checked out the milkyway locations.

  16. DSC_1305
  17. Replica of Maliau Basin

    In front of the Maliau Basin Studies Center was a roundabout with a replica of Maliau Basin. We were just situated at the edge of the basin.

  18. DSC_1309
  19. Stairs to Welcome Area

    One of the many flights of stairs to climb in order to reach our rooms.

  20. DSC_1315
  21. Map of MBSC

    Found this map at the welcome center.

  22. DSC_1310
  23. Shoot!

    We were here to shoot bugs, and the guys found a really big bugger!

  24. DSC_1350
  25. Rooms Annex

    How our rooms looked like from outside.

  26. DSC_1312
  27. Maliau Laboratories

    We gate-crashed into the labs, hoping to meet some entomologists who could point us to good locations with better bug populations. Unfortunately, they said that the place was almost barren due to the drought.

  28. DSC_1313
  29. Maliau Basin Replica

    Found another replica of Maliau Basin in one of the exhibition rooms.

  30. DSC_1319
  31. Dinner

    The food served at MBSC was really good compared to all other nature parks that we’ve been to. Could see that there were also visitors from local schools as well.

  32. DSC_1317
  33. Bearded Pigs

    There was a family of bearded pigs that frequent the dining area, happily rolling in the mud.

  34. Maliau Basin Milkyway - DSC_0218
  35. Milkyway @ Dining Area

    Couldn’t sleep at all on the first night, possibly due to the heat. Ventured out at 3am to be greeted by a sea of stars. Took this shot using Chris’ camera and lens. This was only possible after 12am after the power generators were switched off, with no urban lights for miles.

  36. Maliau Basin Milkyway - DSC_0224
  37. Milkyway @ Dining Area

    Away from the dining area, we could see that the milkyway was slowly moving up. Well, technically we were rotating away…

  38. Maliau Basin Milkyway - DSC_0249
  39. Milkyway @ Entrance of MBSC

    Last milkyway attempt at the lake in front of MBSC.

  40. DSC_1301
  41. Which trail?

    The trails near to MBSC were pretty straightforward. There is a 800m road towards Belian Camp, flanked by parallel trails on both sides. Beyond Belian Camp, cross Belian Bridge and there would be the tree top walk to the right and another trail to the left.

  42. DSC_1304
  43. Heat Wave

    Walking by the road was faster, but we were exposed to the intense heat.

  44. DSC_1302
  45. Belian Camp

    Beyond Belian Camp lies the Belian Bridge.

  46. DSC_1320
  47. Maliau Suspension Bridge

    Start of the bridge, which we also called the Belian Bridge.

  48. DSC_1322
  49. Belian Bridge

    The suspension bridge didn’t seem too stable, so we walked with caution.

  50. DSC_7021
  51. View from Belian Bridge

    The river water was dark, still and obviously below normal levels.

  52. DSC_1326
  53. Maliau Skybridge

    After Belian Bridge was a tree top walk called Maliau Skybridge.

  54. DSC_1329
  55. Ready to Climb!

    Nick and Chris were eager to climb to the top to take some panoramic landscape shots of the jungle.

  56. DSC_1332
  57. Up we go!

    Didn’t seem as easy as they thought, resting a couple of times to catch their breath. Turned out that there wasn’t much of a view as it was still under the forest canopy.

  58. DSC_1344
  59. Wild Goose Chase

    Someone said that there were sightings of a lantern bug just 10 minutes away from MBSC. We probably should have asked if it was 10 minutes on a 4WD…

  60. DSC_1345
  61. Selamat Jalan

    “Anything that needs improving, please tell us.”

    “Anything that’s good, please tell others.”

  62. DSC_1346
  63. Sungai Simpan

    River? What river? Everything seemed dried up.

  64. DSC_1356
  65. Fish Market

    After leaving MBSC, Dennis brought us to the local fish market with lots of fresh seafood.

  66. DSC_1355
  67. Crabs!

    Lots of live crabs.

  68. DSC_1352
  69. Sang Nyuk Mee (生肉面)

    Took a quick lunch before catching our flight. Delicious! Visitors to Sabah must try this. Why don’t they have this in Singapore?

  70. DSC_1358
  71. Deadly Breath of El Nino

    The devastating effect of the weather was reported on the papers.

  72. Araneidae: Orb Weaver Spiders

    There were surprisingly very few araneids in the trails, possibly due to the drought.

    Trashline orb weaver spider (Cyclosa sp.) - DSC_6090b
  73. Trashline orb weaver spider (Cyclosa sp.)

    Saw several Cyclosa with beautiful stabilimentum on their webs.

  74. Trashline orb weaver spider (Cyclosa sp.) - DSC_6194
  75. Trashline orb weaver spider (Cyclosa sp.)

    This is the typical “trashline” built in the middle of its orb web. A spacing is created in the middle of the trashline for the spider to slot itself in for the perfect camouflage.

  76. Orb weaver spider (Neoscona sp.) - DSC_7257
  77. Orb weaver spider (Neoscona sp.)

    This brilliant green Neoscona can be seen in Singapore too but it is not too common.

  78. Orb weaver spider (Araneidae) - DSC_7316
  79. Orb weaver spider (Araneidae)

    Have not figured out the genus for this araneid yet. It has a colourful folium on its abdomen!

  80. Orb weaver spider (Neoscona sp.) - DSC_7406
  81. Orb weaver spider (Neoscona sp.)

    Classic Neoscona. It was found hiding in the foliage, rather than out on its web.

  82. Orb weaver spider (Araneidae) - DSC_7597
  83. Orb weaver spider (Deione sp.)

    Interesting little male araneid. Suspecting that it is close to Deione lingulata that hasn’t been recorded in Sabah yet.

  84. Cross spider (Argiope sp.) - DSC_8041
  85. Cross spider (Argiope sp.)

    One of many juvenile cross spiders. I was interested to see the adult with hope that it would be different, but couldn’t find any.

  86. Clubionidae, Eutichuridae: Sac Spiders

    We saw numerous sac spiders in the foliage, but most were similar to what we see in Singapore.

    Long-legged sac spider (Calamoneta sp.) - DSC_6343
  87. Long-legged sac spider (Calamoneta sp.)

    Have seen this in other parts of Sabah as well.

  88. Sac spider (Clubionidae) - DSC_6614
  89. Sac spider (Pristidia sp.)

    Classic clubionid.

  90. Sac spider (Clubionidae) - DSC_6616
  91. Sac spider (Pristidia sp.)

    Clubionids can be easily recognised by the row of 6 eyes at the bottom, and 2 eyes on top (among other characters).

  92. Sac spider (Clubionidae) - DSC_6835
  93. Sac spider (Pristidia sp.)

    Sub-male clubionid with a darker abdomen.

  94. Sac spider (Clubionidae) - DSC_7738
  95. Sac spider (Clubionidae)

    Probably a Clubiona which is relatively common in Singapore as well.

  96. Corinnidae, Liocranidae: Ant-Like Sac Spiders

    Spiders in the families Corinnidae and Liocranidae are often overlooked. Many are ant-like and can move at fast speeds.

    Ant-like sac spider (Corinnidae) - DSC_5812
  97. Ant-like sac spider (Corinnidae)

    This corinnid is new to me, possibly Apochinomma or Castoponera.

  98. Ant-like sac spider (Medmassa sp.) - DSC_5976
  99. Ant-like sac spider (Medmassa sp.)

    Medmassa is very commonly seen on tree trunks.
  100. Ant-like sac spider (Medmassa sp.) - DSC_5987
  101. Ant-like sac spider (Medmassa sp.)

    Found the corresponding male just a few centimeters away!

  102. Ant-like sac spider (Medmassa sp.) - DSC_7386
  103. Ant-like sac spider (Corinnidae)

    Thought that this was also a Medmassa, but I’ve never seen one on a leaf and am not really sure now.

  104. Ant-like sac spider (Sphecotypus sp.) - DSC_6716
  105. Ant-like sac spider (Sphecotypus sp.)

    This is my first sighting of Sphecotypus with a distinct constriction in the cephalothorax to mimic an ant.

  106. Ant-like sac spider (Sphecotypus sp.) - DSC_6733
  107. Ant-like sac spider (Sphecotypus sp.)

    A view of the eyes, just to be sure that it is a corinnid. 🙂

  108. Ant-like sac spider (Sphecotypus sp.) - DSC_7940
  109. Ant-like sac spider (Sphecotypus sp.)

    Lateral view of this awesome ant-mimic!

  110. Spiny-legged sac spider (Teutamus sp.) - DSC_5846
  111. Spiny-legged sac spider (Teutamus sp.)

    Teutamus is a rarely seen liocranid that can be found in the forest litter.
  112. Spiny-legged sac spider (Teutamus sp.) - DSC_5853
  113. Spiny-legged sac spider (Teutamus sp.)

    The carapace margin is undulating with lateral extensions.

  114. Ctenidae: Wandering Spiders

    We saw a couple of ctenids on the forest floor that looked like what we commonly see in Singapore, but there were quite a number of large Acantheis on the tree trunks which could be mistaken for sparassids.

    Wandering spider (Ctenidae) - DSC_5776
  115. Wandering spider (Ctenidae)

    Common one, just took a record shot.

  116. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.) - DSC_6803
  117. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.)

    This Acantheis has a relatively good camouflage on the tree bark.

  118. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.) - DSC_6820
  119. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.)

    It was contentedly munching on supper.

  120. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.) - DSC_7352
  121. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.)

    This has the more typical pose when we found them.

  122. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.) - DSC_7785
  123. Long-legged wandering spider (Acantheis sp.)

    Interestingly, the spider appears to be able to match its colours to its surroundings!

  124. Hersiliidae: Two-Tailed Spiders

    These spiders were very common on the tree trunks with little species variation, but most were really good at camouflage!

    Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae) - DSC_8197
  125. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae)

    This shows that we really have to be careful when placing our hands on tree trunks.

  126. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae) - DSC_6946
  127. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae)

    They were also very well placed on brown bark.

  128. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae) - DSC_7545
  129. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae)

    Sometimes they would be able to select the patches on the tree that best suit their colour.

  130. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae) - DSC_6508
  131. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae)

    Their camouflage would occasionally be broken when they are feeding.

  132. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae) - DSC_7962
  133. Two-tailed spider (Hersiliidae)

    Found a beautiful green hersiliid with a captured ant!

  134. Oxyopidae: Lynx Spiders

    There were healthy populations of Hamadruas and some Hamataliwa, but there wasn’t as much variety as expected.

    Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.) - DSC_5810
  135. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.)

    We found several Hamataliwa guarding their egg sacs. They were really adept at bringing their egg sac around with them sometimes.

  136. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.) - DSC_7004
  137. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.)

    Another similar one.

  138. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.) - DSC_6790
  139. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.)

    This Hamataliwa‘s eggs had already hatched.

  140. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.) - DSC_6787
  141. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.)

    Close up on her spiderlings.

  142. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.) - DSC_8092
  143. Lynx spider (Hamataliwa sp.)

    The typical monkey face.

  144. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.) - DSC_6034
  145. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.)

    Mature male Hamadruas, quite a common sight.

  146. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.) - DSC_8140
  147. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.)

    Another male Hamadruas, not sure if they were the same.

  148. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.) - DSC_6770
  149. Lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.)

    A majestic seductive maroon Hamadruas guarding her spiderlings.

  150. Pholcidae: Daddy-Long-Legs Spiders

    We saw numerous pholcids in this trip, but most were dull looking or common, so I only have a small number of photos to share here.

    Daddy-long-legs spider (Belisana sp.) - DSC_6102
  151. Daddy-long-legs spider (Belisana sp.)

    Most likely Belisana carrying her eggs.

  152. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae) - DSC_6108
  153. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae)

    A mature male, Pholcus or Leptopholcus? Never seen this before.

  154. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae) - DSC_6262b
  155. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae)

    Another mature male.

  156. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae) - DSC_6773
  157. Daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcidae)

    Possibly the corresponding female.

  158. Pisauridae: Nursery Web Spiders

    There were a couple of nursery web spiders along the trails, although most were juvenile with a few exceptions.

    Nursery web spider (Dendrolycosa sp.) - DSC_6126
  159. Nursery web spider (Dendrolycosa sp.)

    This was sitting comfortably in its web and fetching a good number of prey each time we saw it.

  160. Nursery web spider (Dendrolycosa sp.) - DSC_6120
  161. Nursery web spider (Dendrolycosa sp.)

    Took quite a while to get it to face me to document the eye arrangement.

  162. Nursery web spider (Dendrolycosa sp.) - DSC_7820
  163. Nursery web spider (Dendrolycosa sp.)

    A slightly smaller one caught a planthopper for dinner!

  164. Nursery web spider (Hygropoda sp.) - DSC_8163
  165. Nursery web spider (Hygropoda sp.)

    Nick spotted this from a distance by detecting its eye shine. The legs looked vaguely like that of Hygropoda.

  166. Nursery web spider (Hygropoda sp.) - DSC_8157
  167. Nursery web spider (Hygropoda sp.)

    Not particularly interesting, but thought I should document the eye arrangement for this as well.

  168. Salticidae: Jumping Spiders

    There were lots of jumping spiders, but most were from the same genera with not much variety. I’m no good with identifying them so most will just remain as Salticidae. 🙂

    Ant-mimic jumping spider (Myrmarachne sp.) - DSC_6044
    Ant-mimic jumping spider (Salticidae) - DSC_7053 Ant-mimic jumping spider (Myrmarachne sp.) - DSC_7657
    Ant-mimic jumping spider (Myrmarachne sp.) - DSC_7958 Ant-mimic jumping spider (Myrmarachne sp.) - DSC_8238
  169. Ant-mimic jumping spiders (Myrmarachne sp.)

    We saw lots of ant-mimic jumping spiders hiding under sheets of silk built on leaves. There was a recent explosion of this genus into 19 new genera, so these may no longer be Myrmarachne.

  170. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.) - DSC_6077
  171. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.)

    Epeus was probably the most commonly seen salticid here.
  172. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.) - DSC_6365
  173. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.)

    Lots of opportunities to photograph the eyes.

  174. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.) - DSC_7591
  175. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.)

    The males would have the typical tufts of hair on its head.

  176. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.) - DSC_7887
  177. Jumping spider (Epeus sp.)

    It wasn’t before long that we found one guarding her eggs.

  178. Jumping spider (Telamonia sp.) - DSC_8016
  179. Jumping spider (Telamonia sp.)

    Also saw a lovely male Telamonia!

  180. Jumping spider (Onomastus sp.) - DSC_7650
  181. Jumping spider (Onomastus sp.)

    This is an intriguingly tiny salticid with bulging eyes.

  182. Jumping spider (Onomastus sp.) - DSC_6253
  183. Jumping spider (Onomastus sp.)

    The corresponding male had exceptionally HUGE pedipalps!

  184. Jumping spider (Colyttus sp.) - DSC_6241
  185. Jumping spider (Colyttus sp.)

    I went on my usual business of taking portraits of salticids.

  186. Jumping spider (Spartaeus sp.) - DSC_6314
  187. Jumping spider (Spartaeus sp.)

    There was the usual tree trunk dwellers that refused to look up.

  188. Jumping spider (Parabathippus sp.) - DSC_6897
  189. Jumping spider (Parabathippus sp.)

    And yet another mother-to-be!

  190. Sparassidae: Huntsman Spiders

    We saw many sparassids on the forest floor, tree trunks and in the foliage every night. Just a couple of interesting ones.

  191. Why did the spider cross the road?

    Surprisingly, this Heteropoda was spotted crossing a sandy road under the hot sun.

  192. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_7865
  193. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    Close up on its vibrant chelicerae.

  194. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_7996
  195. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    In our last night shoot, Nick spotted this large Heteropoda, possibly H. lunula.

  196. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_8030
  197. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    It sports a unique tone of purple and orange.

  198. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_8178
  199. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    Another lovely Heteropoda with a slight tint of purple.

  200. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_5774
  201. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    One of the larger orange huntsman spiders. We saw similar ones in Tawau Hills as well.

  202. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_5920
  203. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    Often seen on tree trunks, this is one of the larger sparassids that look similar to H. boiei.

  204. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.) - DSC_5914
  205. Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.)

    This large huntsman appears black to the naked eye. We saw it inside a burrow on a tree trunk, and it jumped out when we approached.

  206. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.) - DSC_6606
  207. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.)

    One of the common Thelcticopis, so I didn’t approach for closer shots.

  208. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.) - DSC_7685
  209. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.)

    An immature Thelcticopis.

  210. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.) - DSC_6627
  211. Huntsman spider (Thelcticopis sp.)

    This juvenile Thelcticopis has interesting abdominal colour and patterns!

  212. Huntsman spider (Stasina sp.) - DSC_6574
  213. Huntsman spider (Stasina sp.)

    An interesting sparassid that weaved a sheet of silk for protection.

  214. Huntsman spider (Gnathopalystes sp.) - DSC_7630
  215. Huntsman spider (Gnathopalystes sp.)

    Found a beautiful Gnathopalystes perched deep in the foliage.

  216. Huntsman spider (Gnathopalystes sp.) - DSC_7561b
  217. Huntsman spider (Gnathopalystes sp.)

    Close up on the eyes reveals a cute white moustache.

  218. Huntsman spider (Pandercetes sp.) - DSC_8109
  219. Huntsman spider (Pandercetes sp.)

    Looks like a juvenile Pandercetes with a unique abdominal shape.

  220. Theridiidae: Comb-Footed Spiders

    It was odd that I didn’t see any theridiids at all on the first two days, but they started appearing on the third.

    Comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_7291
  221. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.)

    Common looking Chrysso was guarding her egg sac and bringing it around with her.

  222. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_7273
  223. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.)

    One of the most colourful Chrysso that I’ve ever seen.

  224. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.) - DSC_8222
  225. Comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.)

    Close to the above species, but much more vibrant and with an egg sac!

  226. Comb-footed spider (Episinus sp.) - DSC_6412
  227. Comb-footed spider (Episinus sp.)

    Commonly mistaken for Janula, but it lacks the two conical tubercles where the anterior median eyes are.

  228. Comb-footed spider (Janula sp.) - DSC_7330
  229. Comb-footed spider (Janula sp.)

    An example to show the two conical tubercles.

  230. Comb-footed spider (Rhomphaea sp.) - DSC_8072
  231. Comb-footed spider (Rhomphaea sp.)

    A distinctly male Rhomphaea, typically dangling below a leaf.

  232. Comb-footed spider (Parasteatoda sp.) - DSC_5993
  233. Comb-footed spider (Parasteatoda sp.)

    This Parasteatoda jumped out of her leaf retreat in the middle of the cob web.

  234. Comb-footed spider (Parasteatoda sp.) - DSC_8051
  235. Comb-footed spider (Parasteatoda sp.)

    This was still in its retreat.

  236. Comb-footed spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_6708
  237. Comb-footed spider (Theridiidae)

    Not sure which theridiid this is!

  238. Comb-footed spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_6856
  239. Comb-footed spider (Theridiidae)

    Another one guarding its egg sac.

  240. Thomisidae: Crab Spiders

    There were very few thomisids on the foliage with only a few sightings. Nevertheless, I have a new genus in my photo collection!

    Crab spider (Stiphropus ocellatus) - DSC_6701
  241. Crab spider (Stiphropus ocellatus)

    This Stiphropus has very stout legs with unique texture on its chelicerae, unlike any other thomisid that I’ve seen before.

  242. Crab spider (Thomisidae) - DSC_7040
  243. Crab spider (Thomisidae)

    A tiny black thomisid that looks close to Synema.

  244. Crab spider (Thomisidae) - DSC_7450
  245. Crab spider (Thomisidae)

    Saw some of these tiny thomisids perched at the edge of holes within leaves. Frustrating to shoot as it would easily flip to either side of the leaf.

  246. Other Spiders

    This section contains the other spiders belonging to smaller families that we encountered.

    Lace-sheet spider (Psechrus sp.) - DSC_6208
  247. Lace-sheet spider (Psechrus sp.)

    Commonly found at the base of large tree trunks, and easily spooked by the slightest movements.

  248. Feather-legged spider (Uloborus sp.) - DSC_6408
  249. Feather-legged spider (Uloborus sp.)

    Nick found this Uloborus at the stairs.

  250. Pirate spider (Mimetus sp.) - DSC_6567
  251. Pirate spider (Mimetus sp.)

    The lesser known spider hunter. Everyone else knew the Portia but few knew about Mimetus which also captures spiders from their own webs.

  252. Ground spider (Zodariidae) - DSC_7432
  253. Ground spider (Zodariidae)

    A common ground spider, possibly Mallinella

  254. Hermit spider (Nephilengys sp.) - DSC_6293
  255. Hermit spider (Nephilengys sp.)

    Male Nephilengys found on its web.

  256. Ornamental tree trunk spider (Herennia sp.) - DSC_7745
  257. Ornamental tree trunk spider (Herennia sp.)

    The most beautifully patterned Herennia that I have ever seen!

  258. Ornamental tree trunk spider (Herennia sp.) - DSC_7773
  259. Ornamental tree trunk spider (Herennia sp.)

    It captured a prey while we were photographing it and allowed me to do some backlighting.

  260. Arachnida: Ticks, Mites, Harvestmen

    This section contains arachnids other than spiders.

    Tick (Ixodida) - DSC_7070
  261. Tick (Ixodida)

    Not everything with eight legs are spiders! I wonder if this would suck my blood…

  262. Long-legged velvet mite (Erythraeidae) - DSC_7808
  263. Long-legged velvet mite (Erythraeidae)

    A stunning erythraeid with peculiar markings on its body.

  264. Harvestman (Podoctidae) - DSC_6935
  265. Harvestman (Podoctidae)

    Found a little podoctid on a tree trunk.

  266. Harvestman (Podoctidae) - DSC_6943b
  267. Harvestman (Podoctidae)

    Nobody wanted to shoot it, but it looked really cool up close!

  268. Hymenoptera: Bees, Wasps, Ants

    I don’t usually photograph ants as they’re usually running about, but I did find some that were willing to stay still for a bit for some shots.

    Stingless bee (Meliponini) - DSC_6290
  269. Stingless bee (Meliponini)

    Several of them loved to land on our arms to savour on our sweat. Got a little irritating when I was trying to shoot.

  270. Ensign wasp (Evaniidae) - DSC_7422
  271. Ensign wasp (Evaniidae)

    Tiny little wasp but super cute!

  272. Ant (Dolichoderus sp.) - DSC_8126
  273. Ant (Dolichoderus sp.)

    This tiny one was dragging a pupa around.

  274. Ant (Polyrhachis sp.) - DSC_8130
  275. Ant (Polyrhachis sp.)

    A Polyrhachis taking a break at the tip of a plant.

  276. Ant (Tetramorium sp.) - DSC_6340
  277. Ant (Tetramorium sp.)

    This Tetramorium was probably looking for mantid eggs from the ootheca.

  278. Ant (Formicidae) - DSC_6398
  279. Ant (Formicidae)

    One of the many ants with abdomens angled upwards.

  280. Armored ant (Cataulacus sp.) - DSC_7444
  281. Armored ant (Cataulacus sp.)

    Sexiest ant of the trip, possibly Cataulacus horridus.

  282. Ant (Formicidae) - DSC_7781
  283. Ant (Formicidae)

    I’m bad with identifying ants, but will just put whatever I shot here.

  284. Ant (Gnamptogenys cf. menadensis) - DSC_7904
  285. Ant (Gnamptogenys cf. menadensis)

    I usually try to shoot those with interesting textures.

  286. Lepidoptera: Butterflies, Moths

    I didn’t shoot any butterflies nor moths, but I did photograph some of its larvae.

    Caterpillar (Erebidae) - DSC_7030
  287. Caterpillar (Erebidae?)

    Not particularly fantastic but worth a record shot.

  288. Caterpillar - DSC_7728
  289. Caterpillar with ant

    Not sure what the ant was trying to do? Does it secrete sugar?

  290. Bagworm moth (Psychidae) - DSC_6213
  291. Bagworm moth (Psychidae)

    This psychid was walking around. Usually see them at rest!

  292. Bagworm moth (Psychidae) - DSC_7295
  293. Bagworm moth (Psychidae)

    I had featured several of these bagworm moth structures in an earlier post: 5 Mysterious Structures from the World’s Smallest Architects.

  294. Common rose larva (Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris) - DSC_7123
  295. Common rose larva (Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris)

    The gummy texture made a good macro subject!

  296. Common rose larva (Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris) - DSC_7127
  297. Common rose larva (Pachliopta aristolochiae asteris)

    Revealing its osmeterium to release a foul smell as a defense mechanism.

  298. Fluffy monster - DSC_7933
  299. Fluffy monster (Epipyropidae)

    A fun little caterpillar that was wiggling around in the moss.

  300. Coleoptera: Beetles

    We had hoped to see some really exotic looking beetles, but it seemed that the weather had taken its toll and we only saw a couple of beetles.

    Darkling beetle (Eucyrtus cf. pretiosus) - DSC_6980
  301. Darkling beetle (Eucyrtus cf. pretiosus)

    A number of these darkling beetles were found on the same fallen log, but wouldn’t sit still until they were busy with something else…

  302. Darkling beetle (Strongylium  sp.) - DSC_5830
  303. Darkling beetle (Strongylium sp.)

    We saw quite a few Strongylium, but starting ignoring it after the 3rd or 4th one, assuming that they were not much different.

  304. Darkling beetle (Strongylium  sp.) - DSC_6714
  305. Darkling beetle (Strongylium sp.)

    Saw a pair mating as well but they disappeared before I could go closer.

  306. Darkling beetle (Tenebrionidae) - DSC_7114
  307. Darkling beetle (Tenebrionidae)

    There was a group of these darkling beetles under the tree bark. Each about an inch long.

  308. Bess beetle (Passalidae) - DSC_6825
  309. Bess beetle? (Passalidae?)

    Not sure about the ID for this. Would need to check again.

  310. Spiky leaf beetle (Dactylispa sp.) - DSC_6865
  311. Spiky leaf beetle (Dactylispa sp.)

    Always a joy to photograph this spiky leaf beetle. Unfortunately it flew off before I could take extreme close ups of the spines.

  312. Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae) - DSC_6403
  313. Leaf beetle (Chrysomelidae)

    Only 1 shot of this, also not identified.

  314. Leaf beetle? (Chrysomelidae?) - DSC_7632
  315. Leaf beetle? (Chrysomelidae?)

    Very dark and skittish fella.

  316. Leaf beetle? (Chrysomelidae?) - DSC_6100
  317. Leaf beetle? (Chrysomelidae?)

    Looks like it wasn’t going to move, but dropped into the leaf litter when I got too close. Unfortunately not enough characters in view to do a proper identification.

  318. Soft-winged flower beetle (Idgia cf. maculicornis) - DSC_7081
  319. Soft-winged flower beetle (Idgia cf. maculicornis)

    First time seeing a beetle from Prionoceridae.

  320. Net-winged beetle (Plateros sp.) - DSC_7098
  321. Net-winged beetle (Plateros sp.)

    Net-winged beetle, a lighter tone than the common red-black ones.

  322. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha furcata) - DSC_7164
  323. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha furcata)

    We found this magnificent golden tortoise beetle resting under a leaf close to the tree top walk.

  324. DSC_1337
  325. Setting up diffused natural lighting for the tortoise beetle

    Due to the highly reflective nature of the beetle, we made several elaborate attempts to get a nice even lighting without moving the beetle.

  326. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha furcata) - DSC_7204
  327. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha furcata)

    Darkened the surroundings and managed a quick ultraviolet shot. If you are interested in ultraviolet fluorescence, view my series on Alien Transformations Under Ultraviolet.

  328. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha furcata) - DSC_7232
  329. Golden tortoise beetle (Aspidimorpha furcata)

    Couldn’t resist doing a backlit shot as well.

  330. Ground beetle (Orthogonius sp.) - DSC_7476
  331. Ground beetle (Orthogonius sp.)

    A lovely carabid! Quite a large one too.

  332. Click beetle (Elateridae) - DSC_8097
  333. Click beetle (Elateridae)

    We saw a number of click beetles on the mossy tree barks, and often together with planthoppers or ants. Not sure why?

  334. Dung beetle (Scarabaeidae) - DSC_8188
  335. Dung beetle (Scarabaeidae)

    A small little dung beetle was resting on top of a plant, taking a break from its shitty business.

  336. Straight-snouted weevil (Brentidae) - DSC_6145
  337. Straight-snouted weevil (Brentidae)

    Dennis spotted a brentid that wouldn’t keep still.

  338. Fungus weevil (Anthribidae) - DSC_6828
  339. Fungus weevil (Anthribidae)

    The anthribids here were quite small, and very skittish. Most flew away before I could go closer.

  340. Fungus weevil (Xylinadini) - DSC_8241
  341. Fungus weevil (Xylinadini)

    We also saw these anthribids from the Xylinadini tribe.

  342. Gold dust weevil (Hypomeces sp.) - DSC_6049
  343. Gold dust weevil (Hypomeces sp.)

    There were a number of Hypomeces next to the lake, but I didn’t venture far in to explore more.

  344. Weevil (Curculionidae) - DSC_6849
  345. Weevil (Curculionidae)

    Found an interesting weevil on the tree trunk.

  346. Weevil (Curculionidae) - DSC_7013
  347. Weevil (Curculionidae)

    There were many tiny little weevils that we missed, most looked similar to the untrained eye.

  348. Longhorn beetle (Noemia sp.) - DSC_7036
  349. Longhorn beetle (Noemia sp.)

    This longhorn beetle belongs to Disteniidae. Only managed a shot from far before it flew off.

  350. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata) - DSC_6919
  351. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata)

    Nick found this beautiful Dystasia at night.

  352. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata) - DSC_6927
  353. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata)

    Very nice patterns and colours!

  354. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata) - DSC_6932
  355. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata)

    It had a broken antenna, but still very active.

  356. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata) - DSC_6934
  357. Longhorn beetle (Dystasia cf. circulata)

    Did I mention that it was very active?

  358. Hemiptera: True Bugs

    There was the usual lantern bug, and some small little interesting bugs. Many look inconspicuous, this is just a small selection. 🙂

    Lantern bug (Pyrops whiteheadi) - DSC_7853
  359. Lantern bug (Pyrops whiteheadi)

    There was only one solitary lantern bug on the same tree each day. Also the most common lantern bug in Sabah. Here’s my take of this beautiful creature to create a glowing feel for it to live up to its name.

  360. False lanternfly nymph (Dictyopharidae) - DSC_7025
  361. False lanternfly nymph (Dictyopharidae)

    Originally thought to be a lantern bug nymph, but turned out to be a false one!

  362. False lanternfly (Dictyopharidae) - DSC_8067
  363. False lanternfly (Dictyopharidae)

    Another stunning dictyopharid in the vicinity, could this be the corresponding adult?

  364. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_7300
  365. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha)

    Numerous fulgroids but I’ve not had them identified yet.

  366. Planthopper (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_6004
  367. Planthopper (Fulgoromorpha)

    This was fresh out of its moult, and exhibiting lovely pastel colours!

  368. Planthopper (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_6018
  369. Planthopper (Fulgoromorpha)

    Tried alternative lighting since the scene was so precious.

  370. Net-winged planthopper (Nogodinidae) - DSC_6446
  371. Net-winged planthopper (Nogodinidae)

    There were some nogodinids that looked similar to the ones we saw in Tawau. Click on the image for dorsal view in the Flickr comments.

  372. Planthopper (Penthicodes sp.) - DSC_6521
  373. Planthopper (Penthicodes sp.)

    On the first night, I approached one of the contractors for directions to the trails. He said there was a black lantern bug which intrigued all of us. Turned out to be this Penthicodes and not a Pyrops. 🙁

  374. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_6620
  375. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha)

    Common nymph with a brush-like waxy tail, but still unsure of family.

  376. Pill-like planthopper nymph (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_6428
  377. Pill-like planthopper nymph (Hemisphaerius sp.)

    Incredibly cute issid nymph that turned out to be a Hemisphaerius.

  378. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_6740
  379. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.)

    Unlikely to be the corresponding adult, but anything from this genus is cute!

  380. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_7087
  381. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.)

    This was seen a couple of times in Tawau.

  382. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_7093
  383. Pill-like planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.)

    Had a longer face, not exactly like the others.

  384. Moth-like planthopper nymph (Ricaniidae) - DSC_6949
  385. Moth-like planthopper nymph (Ricaniidae)

    There was the classic fireworks tail.

  386. Flatid planthoppers (Flatidae) - DSC_7119
  387. Flatid planthoppers (Flatidae)

    And hordes of flatids fresh from after moulting. The fluffs are remnants from the nymphal stages.

  388. Flatid planthopper (Flatidae) - DSC_8075
  389. Flatid planthopper (Flatidae)

    Another flatid, but this resembles a leaf.

  390. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_8080
  391. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha)

    This nymph reminds me of some eurybrachids but I’m not sure.

  392. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha) - DSC_8226
  393. Planthopper nymph (Fulgoromorpha)

    Very cute nymph with two brush tails.

  394. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - DSC_6534
  395. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae)

    Orange cicadellids are very common in Singapore, but this carries a unique set of black and white patches.

  396. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) - DSC_7821
  397. Leafhopper (Cicadellidae)

    Another dusty white cicadellid.

  398. Assassin bug (Reduviidae) - DSC_6351
  399. Assassin bug (Reduviidae)

    There were some assassin bugs in the foliage but I scared most away, with only record shots of some.

  400. Globular shield bug (Plataspidae) - DSC_6137
  401. Globular shield bug (Plataspidae)

    A lifer for me – super adorable plataspid that looked like it had a truncated abdomen.

  402. Cicada (Cicadidae) - DSC_8177
  403. Cicada (Cicadidae)

    On one of our night walks, Nick spotted a Cicada fresh from its moult.

  404. Giant shield bug (Lyramorpha sp.) - DSC_6546
  405. Giant shield bug (Lyramorpha sp.)

    Couldn’t miss out the captivating giant shield bugs of Borneo!

  406. Giant shield bug (Lyramorpha sp.) - DSC_6658
  407. Giant shield bug (Lyramorpha sp.)

    Was just taking record shots of this but wait… look closer…!

  408. Giant shield bug (Lyramorpha sp.) - DSC_6663
  409. Giant shield bug (Lyramorpha sp.)

    She was protecting her eggs? No, her hatchlings that were clutching onto her abdomen!

  410. Giant shield bug nymph (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_6951
  411. Giant shield bug nymph (Tessaratomidae)

    The nymphs here had a distinct black rim around its body.

  412. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae) - DSC_7575
  413. Giant shield bug (Tessaratomidae)

    This had slightly truncated anterior spines.

  414. Everything Else

    Everything else with too few photos to form its own category in this post.

    Stick insect nymph (Phasmatodea) - DSC_6656
  415. Stick insect nymph (Phasmatodea)

    We saw a couple of stick insects. Although none were as fascinating as the ones in our past trips to Borneo, this nymph was especially hairy!

  416. Robberfly (Asilidae) - DSC_7952
  417. Robberfly (Asilidae)

    Saw a number of tiny robberflies close to the forest floor, and just took some record shots.

  418. Earwig (Dermaptera) - DSC_8200
  419. Earwig (Dermaptera)

    The earwigs here were huge, with some measuring up to two inches in length. Didn’t get to shoot those, but this was about one inch long.

  420. Unknown eggs - DSC_7522
  421. Unknown eggs

    Saw a beautiful row of unidentified eggs, and noticed something beside one of them with a dent.

  422. Unknown eggs - DSC_7506
  423. Unknown eggs

    Parasite? Hatched or waiting to oviposit?

  424. Painted mock viper (Psammodynastes pictus) - DSC_6483
  425. Painted mock viper (Psammodynastes pictus)

    One of the contractors showed us this mock viper next to the stream.

  426. Painted mock viper (Psammodynastes pictus) - DSC_6488
  427. Painted mock viper (Psammodynastes pictus)

    The original pose was nicer, but the contractor brought it out before we could say anything so here’s a simple shot!


Although the drought had drastically reduced the fauna numbers, I had quite a number of lifers and couldn’t complain too much. Really wish I could have the chance to return during optimal weather conditions to fully experience the Lost World of Borneo!




Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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