Simon Connolly wins People’s Choice Award at the 3MT Doctoral finals

Congratulations to our very own Simon Connolly for recently winning the People’s Choice Award at the University of Waikato 3MT Doctoral finals! Simon was one of 10 finalists who gave captivating talks on their PhD research, and from the laughter and cheers of the audience it was very clear that Simon had done a great job of entertaining and informing the crowd.

Simon after giving his talk in the 3MT heats

If you’d like to hear Simon’s talk on his research into sexual cannibalism in New Zealand nursery web spiders, you can check out the You Tube recording below.

New papers out from Dr Erin Powell’s PhD research

Congratulations to Dr Erin Powell, who has had not one but TWO papers out from her PhD research on the evolution and ecology of weapon polymorphic New Zealand harvestmen over the last few weeks!

First up you can read a beautiful natural history account describing the predators, diet and defense behaviours of the long-legged harvestmen (Neopilionidae) found in Aotearoa New Zealand, which was published recently in the Journal of Arachnology. The paper includes lots of great images showing off the various behaviours she describes in the paper so it makes for a really enjoyable read. It’s so great to see natural history being appreciated and published by society journals.

Erin also did a really neat set of observations and experiments on one species of harvestmen, Forsteropsalis pureora, where she investigated the rates of autotomy among males of different weapon morphs. Lots of different animals use autotomy as a defense strategy against predators, where they can shed a limb at a predetermined breakage point to give themselves a better chance to escape. Erin hypothesised that males employing scrambling tactics would have higher rates of predation exposure during mate searching compared to males with much larger weapons, that use female-defense tactics. This could manifest in higher rates of autotomy for scrambling males. However, the experiments showed that although there were really high rates of autotomy (54% of wild caught males had at least one leg lost!), there was no evidence of different autotomy rates between male morphs. Also, during predator simulation experiments there was no difference in whether males from different morphs would drop legs, or which leg they dropped. This was a really nice example of a study that investigates the potential costs of scrambling to find mates. That paper is out now in Animal Behaviour.

A male Forsteropsalis pureora in the ‘short broad’ morph. Photographer: Chrissie Painting

Searching for papers on allometry for a special issue

Calling all researchers who are interested in allometry, the study of how the traits of organisms scale with size. Dr Emma Sherratt and I are guest editing a special issue in Evolutionary Ecology which will focus on the evolutionary and ecological implications of allometry. We would love to see submissions on your favourite study organisms across a wide range of fields including sexual selection, behaviour, metabolic scaling, coevolution and beyond.

We particularly welcome student and early career researcher submissions, who get additional benefits to publishing at Evolutionary Ecology including a Springer book voucher and free open access of your publication for the first 8 weeks online.

Feel free to get in touch with Emma and I with pre-submission enquiries or go ahead and submit before 31st August 2021.

For more details on the special issue, check out the call for papers here.

Painting lab at the NZ Entomological Society Conference

After a year of cancelled or virtual meetings, the Painting lab crew were very excited to head off to Dunedin last week to attend the 69th NZ Entomological Society Conference hosted at the Otago Museum. For some of the students it was their very first scientific meeting, and a perfect opportunity to share research findings and ideas in a friendly, supportive environment.

As you can image, pretty much every entomologist in New Zealand was buzzing for the opportunity to hang out with their fellow bug nerds and talk science for a few days, so the conference ended up being fairly large for a local meeting – about 120 participants if I’m not mistaken!

Attendees of the 2021 NZ Entomological Society meeting

All of the Masters students in the lab presented a poster on their research, with two of them receiving awards for their work. Grant Fale got 1st prize for best poster for his Masters research investigating the interactions between native bees and honey bees on mńĀnuka flowers, while Rene Devenish won 2nd prize for her MSc research on the effects of temperature on the physiology and behaviour of pollinators.

Above: Rene with her prize winning poster on the effects of warming temperatures on the physiology and behaviour of pollinators (left), and Michaela with her poster outlining her research on the effects of population density on mating dynamics in giraffe weevils.

Simon gave an engaging talk on some of his preliminary findings from his field research and crossing experiments figuring out the mating system and dynamics of introgression in two Dolomedes fishing spiders. He also won a 21st Anniversary student research award to support his ongoing research, including some upcoming field trips to the deep south of NZ to find some introgressing spiders!

Anyone who knows Simon will not be surprised by the abundance of Star Trek references throughout his talk

A fantastic addition to this year’s conference was a market desk packed full of beautiful NZ Entomology art including the NZ insect playing cards, prints by Josh MacKinnon, and an amazing insect poster and gift cards by Lily Duval.

Lily Duval‘s beautiful insect ABC poster

Thanks to the organising committee for a wonderful few days hearing about all the great entomological research going on in NZ, and to our national COVID response team for making it possible to meet in person during a pandemic.

Most of the Painting lab crew checking out the TŇęhura Science Centre & butterfly house at the Otago Museum (L to R: Lara, Michaela, Brody, Simon, Chrissie, Rene)

Shiny new lab!

It’s been a year and a half since Chrissie joined the University of Waikato faculty and with all the chaos getting teaching and research underway there’s been no news updates in all that time!

Despite the immense challenges that 2020 and Covid19 has brought, we are very excited to show off the newly emerged Invertebrate Behavioural Ecology lab. New initiative support from the University of Waikato means we could equip the lab with new benches, shelving, microscopes, and a freezer. All ready for lots of exciting new research!

The new microscopy & experiment room

The lab is already housing several hundred Dolomedes fishing spiders as part of Simon Connolly’s PhD research and will soon see the addition of giraffe weevils and peripatus as part of Michaela Lambert, Lara Mills and Brody Chapman’s MSc projects.

The rearing room is already home to several hundred Dolomedes spiders
Michaela, about to start her MSc, doing dissections on the new stereo microscope

We are also excited to be hosting Joseph McCormick, an MSc student working with Tanya Latty and Tom White at U Sydney, who is starting his experiments looking at social information transfer in ants.

Simon & Joseph attending to their study species in the rearing room



This has been the most fun hashtag on Twitter for a while! #UnScienceAnAnimal

Here’s my take on it for the NZ giraffe weevil (tuwhaipapa):


Some other invert favourites:

A year of being a science mama

In October 2017 my dream of becoming a mum became a reality with the birth of my son. A year or so on, I’ve been reflecting a lot about life as a mother and scientist, and the challenges of combining these two rewarding jobs. I’ve been writing this blog in my head for a while and wondering what or how much to say. So much of becoming a parent is personal, confronting, raw and beautiful. It’s hard to know what to share that might help other academic mums and mums-to-be. What follows is my story, even the bits I’m a little embarrassed to share. Also, I offer some reflections on what I think worked for me, how my colleagues, department, and family enabled me to have a fairly smooth transition back to work after my son was born, and some of the things I struggle with.

Here goes.

Pregnancy was tough – anxiety around losing another baby (following miscarriage) mixed with a long period of morning sickness meant a pretty unproductive period at work. I worried about living up to the supermum status that seems prevalent among field biologists while simultaneously congratulating myself if I made it from bed to couch without spewing. I did field work very early on before I got sick, but after that I spent a lot of time lying on my office floor inspecting the carpet (ew) and catching up on lab work.

There was a relatively good period somewhere in the middle where I could keep a meal down and energy levels went up. Foolishly, it was during this bit that I said yes to way too many things and overloaded my plate so that when third trimester exhaustion hit I had to go around apologizing for everything I couldn’t deliver on. Nobody seemed surprised or offended though, all my colleagues apparently being a lot wiser than I.

I was very glad I took 3 weeks of leave to relax and nest before baby was due. I remember this as a glorious time of Netflix binging, reading stacks of second-hand novels by wńĀhine toa, short waddles and lots of yoga. If I think harder I remember nights roaming the house with insomnia, complaining A LOT about being uncomfortable and intense anxiety about the unknowns of parenthood.

Baby arrived after several days of labour during a straightforward birth one day after his due date. He was small, hairy and perfect. What followed was a pretty dark period of postnatal depression that manifested in not being able to fall asleep for days on end, panic attacks and swelling anxiety that started mid-afternoon and would be out of control by evening. With support from my whńĀnau and amazing midwife I was started on medication that eventually turned things around. The fog slowly cleared and I started enjoying being a mum.

The next few months were a rollercoaster that I’m sure any parent can relate to. I spent an inordinate amount of time on the couch prone while my son slept on me or pounding the pavement with him in the front pack in an attempt to get him to sleep longer than 20 minutes. I felt so guilty about ‘wasting’ time but I look back and wish I could have embraced that special time of cuddles and healing.

When my son was about 4 months old and my depression was under control, I started thinking about work. We had some small semblance of routine that meant on Sundays I would arm my husband with a bottle of expressed milk and head off to our local library for a couple of hours of writing. I LOVED those few hours in the library. This strangely turned out to be one of the most creative and exciting times in my career, as I plotted ideas and wrote grants. In hindsight I think having very few expectations on me while on leave gave me headspace to think. During this time I re-prioritised my research plans for the next few years, coming up with things I could work on close to home now that doing field work in remote places at night was not possible while my son was young.

After 7 months of leave I returned to work part-time, leaving my son in daycare. All things considered it was a smooth transition, but if I’m honest I spent the first few weeks feeling very lost. I guarded my 2 days in the office closely and didn’t really socialise, spending my lunch break pumping milk and cramming as much in as I could so that I could escape home to bubs. My colleagues were wonderfully supportive, helping me to protect my time and focus on what was important with the limited time I had in the office/lab. A couple of months in I travelled to Brisbane with my husband and baby to present at the ASSAB conference. It was expensive to bring them both with me but worked well having them close for breastfeeding, and we made the most of the trip with our first family holiday afterward.

When my son turned one I increased my workload to 4 days a week, which really helped to feel more productive. I love my Fridays at home with him. We always do something special together and I spend a happy guilt-free day focused solely on my son. Around this time I took a research trip to Perth to visit a collaborator, making the most of one of the grants I had written and won while on maternity leave. With generous support from my HoD I was able to take my mum with me to care for my son while I was in the lab, allowing me to spend a fantastic week planning new projects and learning techniques.

So, a year on being a working mum is becoming my new normal. When I’m in the office/lab/field I focus on my work, and when I’m at home my family takes up all my time. It’s not an easy balance and I’m still struggling with a few hurdles. While my son still breastfeeds and my husband works shifts I’m finding it next to impossible to do the field work required for my current postdoc (which researches nocturnal harvestmen found in remote parts of NZ). That frustrates me to no end but I try to remind myself it won’t last forever and I’m trying to find future projects that I can work around my family a little easier. It’s taken a while to learn what working part-time means in terms of what can be done during a working week. I’m learning to say no, even though sometimes I would actually really like to say yes. Since having a child I’ve become hyper-aware of how many work activities happen after 4pm. Although these are usually not essential events to attend, I miss going to networking events and seminars. I’m sure this gets easier as baby gets older.

Lastly, one of the biggest challenges has been overcoming guilt. I’m sure everyone feels it to some degree when becoming a parent but boy oh boy does it pop up often. I feel guilty about my low level of productivity at work over the last couple of years, guilty about not enjoying parenthood in the first few months, and guilty about being happy about going back to work. I’m learning to shrug that off now and it feels so much better.

For what it’s worth, acknowledging that this ‘advice’ is only coming from my own experience, here are some suggestions for new academic mamas:

  • Block out the voices (internal or otherwise) that tell you what you ‘should’ be doing during pregnancy or when you have a young baby. You might have all the energy and passion for work in the world, in which case good on you and go for it! If you’re like me and felt like both were all about survival, know that you are not alone and like many parts of parenthood, this too shall pass!
  • If you can, surround yourself with your village, whoever that may be. Say yes to offers of help/food/cleaning, don’t be too proud to say yes.
  • Outsource when you can. Hire a cleaner, use click & collect for groceries, do baby swaps with other parents, bring more collaborators on board.
  • Lower your expectations. I was told this many times and it took a while to really take this on board. I got used to having a messier house, showering every third day (sorry to my office mate!), and saying no to opportunities at work that didn’t gel with my baby’s routine. I struggled with this A LOT, especially with regards to delivering at work, but to my knowledge there has been no catastrophic effect from giving fewer f*cks.
  • Be upfront with your supervisor/head of department/colleagues about how they can support your transition back to work. Be direct about what you need, when they can expect you to be in the office, and let them know that this might (will) change as your baby grows. For me this resulted in: being able to extend my contract for the length of time I was on leave, colleagues respecting the limited amount of time I was in the office when working part-time (i.e. ‘permission’ to skip non-essential meetings, seminars and morning teas), financial support to hire an RA to help out in the lab, financial support to fly my mum to babysit bubs while I was on a research trip abroad, being lent a small fridge to store breastmilk (from the UoA Equity Office), & a colleague lending me their student’s office to pump in.

  • Probably one of the most useful things I did early on after returning was to make a big list of all my main jobs including all the boards/committees I serve on. I then worked through this list and prioritised what was most useful for me going forward for my career, and resigned from those that I had perhaps already got what I needed from or felt I had ‚Äėdone my time‚Äô. When working part-time there just aren’t enough hours to deliver on all these service-related commitments so be ruthless with your time, especially during that transition period.
  • Avoid deadlines wherever possible. This one I learnt from Emily Nicholson’s awesome blog on being a science mum. Deadlines have the uncanny ability to pop up right when your baby gets ill or decides to stop sleeping. When my baby had a 3 week period of sleeping well when he was about 4 months old I naively thought the hard bit was over and started getting enthusiastic about work. Consequently this resulted in me signing up to do far too many things which all came to a head a few months later when we were back in crappy sleep land and I had no energy to complete any of it. Cherry pick the ones that are important to you.
  • Be wary of overpacking your schedule, especially when returning part-time. If, like me, you aren’t used to working part-time it can be quite hard to figure out what fits in to a couple of working days. Be kind on yourself as you learn this and most likely stuff it up. People understand if you have to say no or pull out.
  • If on an organising committee, try to arrange events to be during work hours to include your fellow parents, or at least alternate them between lunch time and evening events.
  • Lastly, be kind to yourself and know that it gets easier. It truly does. Even when you are in the thick of some awful sleep regression, your whole house gets gastro for the third time in a month and you have that grant deadline looming, know that you’ll get through it. Recruit your village, do what you need to survive and believe in yourself e hoa!

bug hunting with bubs

Sharing my love for nature with my baby is one of my favourite parts of being a mum.

University of Waikato 2019

I’m very excited to be moving to the University of Waikato in Hamilton mid-2019 to start my own lab! From Semester 2 I’ll be teaching the third year undergraduate and postgraduate Animal Behaviour courses so looking forward to putting together an engaging curriculum. Also, I’ll be seeking postgrad students to join my lab, so if you are interested in the behavioural ecology of New Zealand arthropods, please get in touch! I have several projects in mind but also welcome new ideas from prospective students too, especially those that might use behavioural approaches applied to conservation challenges. I aim to build a welcoming, collaborative, and fun lab to work in so if that sounds like you then get in touch and tell me about your interests.

University of Waikato campus (photo from

Our little family is in Hamilton this weekend looking at real estate and getting excited about the big move. We’ve lived in several cities over the years, but this is the first time we feel like we can put down roots and so it is really fun looking around different suburbs and thinking about where our 1 year old will call home.

Discovering the river walk along the mighty Waikato in Hamilton

Proximity to great playgrounds a priority when house hunting with kids

Been a little busy…

It’s been over 8 months since my last post but I’ve got a fairly good excuse! My first baby was born in October last year and has been keeping me very busy as I learn to be a mum to this very busy little boy.¬† I started back at work part-time in May and have quickly gained a new perspective about the difficulty of balancing life as a mum and keeping up with my research. I’ve got lots of thoughts to share with you about this, but so little time to write at the moment that I’ll save that for a future blog post.

Until then!

Arlo and I in the bush June 2018

Getting some nature time 




Stories about a colourful, ant-mimicking spider from South East Asia

Stories about a colourful, ant-mimicking spider from South East Asia

Happy #arachtober everyone! A whole month to celebrate the wonderful world of spiders and other arachnids. Arachnid lovers on Twitter are busy posting photos of their favourite beasties, spreading their passion for these often-feared animals.

Given this, it seemed auspicious timing for the publication of our natural history note on the bizarre feeding behaviour by the jumping spider, Orsima ichnueumon.

My favourite part of being a biologist are the exploratory trips to new places to find creatures you’ve never worked on before. There’s always an element of self-doubt that you’ll not find what you’re looking for, but the effort can be rewarded with a rush of euphoria when you first spot your animal. During these first observations in the wild you start to build a mental picture of the animal’s subtle habitat requirements and the way they behave. Often it’s during these first observations that you realise several of the¬† ideas that you came up with while sitting at your desk are total rubbish, but it’s an exciting time to start formulating new questions based on what you see happening in front of you.


Looking towards Kuala Lumpur from the Genting Highlands during one of our research trips to Malaysia (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

The story we just published in Frontiers in Ecology & Enviroment is based on one of these exciting first observations of a species doing something unexpected.

I became fascinated by¬†O. ichnuemon¬†during my postdoc in Singapore, where I was working on the evolution of colour in jumping spiders. This mesmerizing little species is closely related to several South East Asian jumping spiders that¬†have been the focus of¬†Daiqin Li’s¬†behavioural ecology group.¬†Much of the work has been done on¬†Cosmophasis umbratica, the males of which use elaborate dances to display to potential mates and foes, flashing their iridescent and ultra-violet colours.

Two males fighting

Two male Cosmophasis umbratica in battle (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

Unlike their sister species¬†C. umbratica,¬†O. ichnuemon¬†is rarely observed and almost nothing is known about its natural history. Not only does¬†O. ichnuemon¬†display an impressive array of colours, but they also look rather ant-like in their movement and body shape. Elongated spinnerets (silk-laying structures) extending from their abdomen look like antennae and mouthparts, and the deep constriction in the male’s abdomen gives the appearance of an extra body part to look like an ant with head, thorax and abdomen. These adaptations, in combination with the way they move their body while walking, fool the observer (of the human-kind at least) into thinking they are watching an ant move backwards.

Orsima male_Sideview3

A male¬†Orsima ichneumon –¬†it’s head is facing towards the right, on the left you can see the elongated antennae and mouthpart-like spinnerets extending from the spider’s abdomen¬†(Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

myrmarachne sp

Myrmarachne maxillosa, a common ant-mimic in Singapore (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

While many invertebrates make easy pickings for predators, ants are often avoided because of their nasty tempers and ability to inflict damage when under attack. For this reason hundreds of insects and spiders mimic ants using an impressive spectrum of ant-like body shapes, structures and behaviour. However, unlike O. ichnuemon, most ant mimics are typically dark brown, red or black, matching the colour of most ants (although there are colourful ants!).

So began my obsession with this little spider!

I began plotting experiments and got excited about working on a relatively unknown species. I was interested in trying to figure out whether Orsima are really fooling potential predators into perceiving them to be dangerous ant prey and what elements of their mimicry were helping them avoid being eaten. At the same time, I also wanted to figure out the role of the complex colours displayed by Orsima, and whether the colours help them to attract mates or repel male competitors, ward off predators as warning colours, or perhaps some combination of both.

Of course, the first challenge to kicking off a project like this is to find your species in the wild. Fortunately a student in the Li lab had spotted them before in the hills above Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and so I was able to use his locations to begin my search.

With luck, on the first trip to the University of Malaya Gombak Field Station we were able to find a surprising abundance of¬†Orsima¬†wandering around on forest-edge shrubs. From this my very productive Honour’s student, Renee, was able to do a series of experiments and observations to start teasing apart the possible reasons why¬†Orsima¬†are so colourful.

In the lab Renee staged interactions between either two males or a male and a female to observe the types of behaviours they perform. Jumping spiders have incredible visual acuity, so they tend to be highly responsive to the presence of another spider.

Renee was able to record 28 major elements of behaviour that¬†Orsima¬†perform during courtship or male-male fighting interactions. She found that males had a more complex repertoire of dance and fight moves than females, and that during these displays males would show off their colourful patches by waving their abdomen, palps and legs. Her work has just been published¬†in a really nice paper that painstakingly describes each behavioural element, coupled with lovely photos.¬†Renee went on to do some neat experiments manipulating the colour of the male’s abdomen to test if this changed the response of female spiders and predators. More on that in coming months!

Locked in battle

Two male Orsima in combat with outstretched legs and wide-open jaws (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

6e bent

A male O. ichneumon raises, bends and waves his colourful abdomen during courtship and male-male fights (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

While Renee was busy in the lab, Caleb and I headed off on a second trip to the Gombak Field Station to find more Orsima, with plans for further observations and experiments. We picked up our hire car from KL airport and attempted to navigate our way up the winding roads leading up to the field station on the route to the Genting Highlands.

Unfortunately we managed to time our visit during a very rainy November, and on the night before our arrival several landslips had blocked off the road into the field station. We scratched our heads at the roadblock above the field station trying to decide what to do. As any field biologist knows, a lot of money and time is spent planning these trips, and we didn’t want to have to go back to Singapore without seeing our spiders.

Luckily we had found other locations nearby with very similar vegetation in our previous trip, so we headed over in hope of finding¬†Orsima¬†there. In the tropics, ants are the most dominant insect seen foraging on trees, so it is quite tricky to spot¬†Orsima¬†spiders among them, despite their bright colours. It wasn’t long, however, before we found several¬†Orsima¬†scurrying around on the leaves of a common roadside shrub.

It was here that we spotted the behaviour that we wrote about in our short note for¬†Frontiers in Ecology & Environment.¬†We watched a female¬†Orsima¬†patrolling around on a single tree leaf, where she appeared to be walking between a bunch of little raised discs scattered over the leaf surface, and dipping her head down to feed. At the time, I didn’t know that we were looking at extra-floral nectaries (EFN’s), tiny nectar-filled structures produced by the plant to attract ants. EFN’s are considered a mutualism between the plant and ants, because the plant receives the benefit of reduced herbivory by insect pests (like munching grasshoppers), while the ants receive a reliable source of food.

Not only did we notice that¬†Orsima¬†were feeding on these nectaries, we also watched as they performed a little ceremonial dance after each feeding bout. The spider would walk over the depleted nectary and then waggle it’s abdomen from side to side, leaving behind a patch of silk next to the nectary.

Over the next few hours, we watched several Orsima doing the same behaviour. The spider would remain on the same leaf surface, appearing to be guarding that particular patch of nectaries. The many ants also found on the same tree were also feeding on the nectaries, but they wandered from leaf to leaf, sampling from each nectary on their path. We noticed that the Orsima would sometimes chase away an ant competitor that arrived onto their leaf, and once we even spotted an ant trip over in the little silk patch that the spider had laid around the nectary. We started to wonder if these silk fences were acting as mini barricades to repel ants from foraging on the nectaries.

Orsima laying silk around nectary

A female Orsima laying a patch of silk around an extra-floral nectary (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

Orsima nectaries with silk and ant

Orsima moves aside when a large Polyrhachis ant arrives to forage on the nectaries. On the lower right of the leaf you can see distinct silk patches next to the nectaries (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)

We thought we’d witnessed something unusual, but it wasn’t until we were back in the lab chatting to our colleagues that we started to figure out how unique the guarding behaviour was. We don’t know of any other spiders that do this strange silk-laying dance after foraging on a nectary.

It’s special because spiders are almost always considered to be carnivores that may occasionally supplement their diet with plant nectar. We’ve seen¬†Orsima¬†hunting small insects in the wild so we know they aren’t strict vegetarians, but it was still hard for us to explain why they would spend time and energy guarding the nectaries and using up silk if this was a small part of their diet.

To be successful mimics Orsima may need to hang out in close vicinity to the ants they resemble so that they can fool potential predators and go under the radar. However, a large number of ants foraging on these trees are also likely to reduce the numbers of potential insect prey for Orsima, meaning less food availability. Although speculation at this stage, we propose that Orsima may offset the costs of fewer prey by guarding the energy-rich nectaries from ant competitors.

We’re looking forward to working further on¬†Orsima¬†to keep teasing apart their fascinating natural history.

To get the full run down of our work on Orsima so far, check out these free to access publications:

Painting, C. J., C. C. Nicholson, M. W. Bulbert, Y. Norma-Rashid, D. Li (2017) Nectary feeding and guarding behaviour by a tropical jumping spider. Frontiers in Ecology & Environment 15: 469-470. Link

Huixin, R. W.*, Y. Norma-Rashid, D. Li, C. J. Painting (2017) Courtship and male-male interaction behaviour of Orsima ichneumon, an ant-mimicking jumper spider (Arachnida: Salticidae). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 65: 426-439. Link

Orsima ichneumon

A female O. ichnuemon showing off her beautiful colours. Could a spider be any more beautiful? (Photo: Caleb Nicholson)