On and in a brick wall
Interesting and beautiful creatures live on (and in) the brick wall of your house, especially spiders, and several types of solitary bees and wasps.
In April I saw a red mason bee (Osmia bicolor) that constantly flew back and forth to the same hole in the bricks which used to hold a screw of something. I set up my camera on a tripod with a wireless remote, and took several photos.
When I returned a few days later to check progress, I saw that the bee had mortored the hole shut. I had to look for a while to even find the spot. Inside the hole, the bee makes several cells, each of which will receive one egg. Every cell also gets a food supply of pollen for the emerging larvae. After the egg is laid, the female seals off the cell, and proceeds to make another. She’ll make about ten cells in each hole, mortar it shut, and go looking for a suitable spot. Females can be found building these nests till the end of May or early June. The young bees don’t hatch until the following spring, and must chew their way out of the nest. Red mason bees are quite common in Holland, so keep an eye out.
On sunny days, you can find the zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) on just about any wall, even in winter. But they hide in cloudy weather. I always find one, if the sun is out, on a south facing wall by the back door. This small spider, (about 1/4 inch) is a visual hunter and a good jumper who can pounce on his prey from several inches away.
They have four pair of eyes, of which the two front ones are very well developed. This gives them binocular vision, so they can judge distances. They even hunt in full sun. The eyes are designed like telephoto lenses and have a moveable retina, so that the spider can change his field of view without actually moving his eyes. No other spider can do this. Zebra spiders don’t spin a web, but during the hunt, they do secure themselves with a spun thread, and hang from it if they fall. As you can see in the photo below, they will even attack prey larger than themselves. To catch a fly, they must be very quick indeed. It’s an attractive spider, and a challenge to photograph because they are small and quick.
The harvestman spider (Dicranopalpus ramosus), in the photo on the right, bottom is from the Phalangiidae family, photographed here on a white-painted wall. It was only discovered in Morocco in 1909, and has since made it’s way across Europe. In 1992 it reached the Netherlands and was seen in several places. Now it can be seen everywhere in the country. The body, without the legs, is less than 1/4 inch. The legs are very long and thin, up to two inches in fact. This gives this spider a total span of about four inches. It got it’s Dutch name, stretch-legged-spider, because of the spread out stance it maintains even at rest. To photograph this spider and fill the frame with a Canon EOS 7D, you only need an enlargement of 1:5.