Lime tree drama: spider vs. bee

A few weeks ago I bought a makrut lime tree (Citrus hystrix) so I could use its leaves in Asian curry pastes (Thai and Balinese, in particular), my favorite cauliflower soup, and to make infused syrups for drinks.

Right now, the tree is festooned with blossoms and pea-sized fruits (most of which will probably fall off before becoming mature) and so it is popular with a variety of bees — European honeybees, large bumblebees (probably native), and small bees (probably native).

The tree is also popular with spiders — the other day I counted at least three species lurking or stalking. One was a hunting spider (like a wolf spider) the size of an small ant, another was a web-builder with a pale green hue that I had never seen before on a spider, and the other one I can’t remember any details about.

On this day, the green spider had caught a bee — possibly the same species as in the photo above, but a different individual. I watched and photographed as the spider wrapped the bee in strands of fresh silk.

Spider and captured bee 3

I’m glad that my fruit tree is supporting such interesting activities, but really wish that the spiders would focus their attention on aphids or leaf-rollers instead of bees (especially the little black aphids demolishing my garlic chives).

Footnote: if you like bugs and nature documentaries, check out David Attenborough’s “Life in the Undergrowth.” It tells amazing stories from the world of insects, arachnids, slugs and other invertebrates. Although occasionally icky, there are some stunningly beautiful scenes — like a shot of mayflies flitting above a pond (just thinking about it makes me almost want to run out and rent it again just for watch that scene) — and some stories that are too amazing not to be true — like the strange relationship between a certain wasp, a certain caterpillar and certain breed of ants.



  1. I had to come see if you are still blogging, since the sweet potato leaf post was old. I like watching insects and taking photos of them, too. I agree with you on the spider's choice of a meal. Maybe it just eats bees occasionally. I wonder if that bee was old and slower moving than the others.

  2. I bought my tree last year with three or four fruit on it already. I've just been able to put it outside now that the nights are warm, and I'm dying for the leaves to start growing and the blooms to come. I hope they smell as good as they look in your your photos.

    By the by, is it me, or are all the bees back this year?

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