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The Plushy, Squishy Velvet Worm

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26 July 2013

The Velvet Worm (Onychophora) looks like a plush toy. It looks squishy. And it’s darn cute. Our night would’ve been a dull walk had it not been for the sighting of this beautiful multi-legged worm. When we approached, it ejaculated squirted at us. What? I’ve known the velvet worm to squirt slime at it’s prey but this was the first time seeing it, and it has already given us a special welcome gift!

The Velvet Worm is armed with a pair of slime-guns, which are actually their front limbs. The slime squirts off the guns as gooey streams of liquid, normally directed at prey to ensnare them. Quite magically, this biological glue is supposed to harden into a gel almost immediately upon contact with the prey. Apparently, it would eat back the slime after the squirt. No wastage there! Such tactics reminds me of… the Spitting Spider (Scytodiidae) which also spits venom at their prey.

    Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0975
  1. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Record shot of the Velvet Worm, possibly Eoperipatus sumatranus which has been recorded in Singapore. It is also listed in the Singapore Red Data Book as endangered. Notice the stream of goo streaking down from the head, that was remnants of the slime!

  2. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0900
  3. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Close up on the Velvet Worm’s head. Utter cuteness!

  4. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0903
  5. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    The squishy looking and seemlingly jointless legs resembles the limbs of a plush toy!

  6. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0906
  7. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Front view of the Velvet Worm. Say hallooo!

  8. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0920
  9. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Mr Squishy was feeling agitated, so we let it climb onto the stick where it felt more comfortable and stayed still.

  10. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0927
  11. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Oh those legs…

  12. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0938
  13. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Close up of the underside of the Velvet Worm

  14. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0939
  15. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    Before we placed it back on the tree trunk, it finally decided to move yooo.

  16. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?) - DSC_0942
  17. Velvet Worm (Eoperipatus sumatranus?)

    This is out of focus, but just had a comical effect

  18. Here’s a video from Youtube which shows the craziest squirt from a velvet worm!

    As mentioned at the start of the post, the night was rather dull. BUT.. what’s dull to me might be of interest to some of you so here they are!

    Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_0716
  19. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae)

    Tiny little Huntsman Spider from the leaf litter

  20. Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedates leucomystax) - DSC_0764
  21. Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedates leucomystax)

    Ben found this pair of mating Four-Lined Tree Frogs in the middle of the path.

  22. Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedates leucomystax) - DSC_0773
  23. Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedates leucomystax)

    I struggled to take pictures of it, as my extension tube decided to lose connection at the last minute. : struggled to take pictures of it, as my extension tube decided to lose connection at the last minute. ūüôĀ

  24. Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedates leucomystax) - DSC_0784
  25. Four-Lined Tree Frogs (Polypedates leucomystax)

    We did make an interesting discovery though. The eyes of the Four-Lined Tree Frogs would fluoresce under ultraviolet light!! (Thanks to Melvyn again for shining UV at everything we saw) I didn’t get to take pictures of that as the horny duo jumped off soon after, but it was really creepy. Definitely in my to-do list!

  26. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae) - DSC_0795
  27. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae)

    Found a number of these Orb Web Spiders

  28. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae) - DSC_0802
  29. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae)

    View of the eyes of the Orb Web Spider

  30. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae) - DSC_0804
  31. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae)

    Dorsal view, actually the first angle for identification

  32. Nursery Web Spider (Pisauridae) - DSC_0809
  33. Nursery Web Spider (Pisauridae)

    Nursery Web Spider , quite a small one

  34. Nursery Web Spider (Pisauridae) - DSC_0812
  35. Nursery Web Spider (Pisauridae)

    Check out it’s eye arrangement!

  36. Archduke larva (Lexias pardalis dirteana) - DSC_0817
  37. Archduke larva (Lexias pardalis dirteana)

    Found an Archduke larva . I often called such cats the Christmas Caterpillar.

  38. Skull-Faced Caterpillar - DSC_0849
  39. Skull-Faced Caterpillar

    Found another Skull-Faced Caterpillar, struggling to climb up the branch.

  40. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae) - DSC_0850
  41. Orb Web Spider (Gea sp.)

    Another Orb Web Spider , a lovely male!

  42. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae) - DSC_0869
  43. Orb Web Spider (Gea sp.)

    The Orb Web Spider tried to balloon away.

  44. Ground Spider (Zodariidae) - DSC_0873
  45. Ground Spider (Zodariidae)

    Another Ground Spider . Apparently the Zodariids here like to rest on tree trunks.

  46. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_0894
  47. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    Katydid with exceptional appendages on it’s legs.

  48. Jumping Bristletail (Machilidae) - DSC_0896
  49. Jumping Bristletail (Machilidae)

    Jumping Bristletail , often ignored but spectacular up close

  50. Jumping Bristletail (Machilidae) - DSC_0965
  51. Jumping Bristletail (Machilidae)

    Check out the eyes!

  52. Sac Spider (Clubionidae) - DSC_0959
  53. Sac Spider (Clubionidae)

    A common but small Sac Spider

  54. Sac Spider (Clubionidae) - DSC_0961
  55. Sac Spider (Clubionidae)

    This Sac Spider has 6 eyes in the bottom row.

  56. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_0755
  57. Jumping Spider (Anarrhotus sp.)

    Found an interestingly large Jumping Spider

  58. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_0756
  59. Jumping Spider (Anarrhotus sp.)

    The lateral eyes were actually quite big for a salticid!

  60. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_1014
  61. Jumping Spider (Anarrhotus sp.)

    And… here’s the classic face shot!

  62. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_1017
  63. Jumping Spider (Anarrhotus sp.)

    Hair-raising view

  64. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_1024
  65. Jumping Spider (Anarrhotus sp.)

    An obvious male. Pity that I did not take sharper pictures of the palps, which had some unique stripes on them.

The first part of this trip has been documented in the earlier post on the Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug. Do check that out too!

The complete album can be viewed here.

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NICKY BAY
Singapore

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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