Located right in the heart of South Bengaluru, JP Nagar has an unexplored green lung that remains almost invisible to most of the inhabitants of the area. Spread across many acres amidst clusters of multi-storeyed residential apartments and office spaces, JP Nagar Reserve Forest (Doresanipalya Forest Research Station), off Bannerghatta Road, is a sanctuary in our urban jungle. An idyllic terrain for morning walks, it is a sanctum for many people due to its tranquility. This reserve forest shelters beautiful species of birds and butterflies, attracting nature enthusiasts and photographers from various parts of the city. Covered with dense greenery, this woodland—a fragmented part of the Bannerghatta National Park—also houses a wide range of interesting insects.
Some patches of the reserve forest support surprisingly diverse species of spiders. The smaller trails branching through the big patch are the best places to spot spiders.
A male jumping spider (Chrysilla sp.), one of the most vibrant and beautiful spiders.
A female jumping spider (Brettus sp.) stands guard over her clutch of eggs, which is covered and protected by a silk casing. Females guard the egg sack until the spiderlings hatch, and continue to guard them for few more days afterward.
A male Two-striped Telamonia Spider (Telamonia dimidiata). Like all species of jumping spiders, this has stunning eyes and an extremely acute vision. Jumping spiders have eight eyes in all – the two big ones facing forward and six more placed across their head give them an almost 360-degree vision.
A wandering spider munches on a juicy caterpillar. Spiders have developed amazing ways of hunting their food, and are known to feed on a variety of prey.
It is common to see spiders preying on other spiders. Here, a jumping spider (Rhene sp.) feeds on a lynx spider (Hamadruas sp.). Apparently, it is most common for jumping spiders and certain other genus such as Portia to prey primarily on other spiders.
Another example of a spider preying on its own kind – a lynx spider takes down the mightier crab spider.
A pair of crab spiders. Spiders are the perfect example of sexual dimorphism in both looks and size, which means that the male and the female look totally different. In several species of spiders, females are much bigger than their tiny male counterparts.
Besides these interesting spiders, one can find a variety of other critters in JP Nagar Reserve Forest.
An assassin bug, seen using the carcasses of its victims as a camouflage. After feeding on its victims, the assassin bug attaches the remaining exoskeletons of its prey to its back using a sticky secretion; sometimes, these can be larger than its own body. This cluster of dead insects serves as protective armour for the assassin bug, and also helps camouflage it from predators.
Eggs of an assassin bug (Endochus sp.). This unusual looking egg mass was glued to the underside of a leaf, and the way the eggs are stacked and gelled together to hang vertically is very unique compared to the eggs of other assassin bug species. Each cherry-like object is an individual egg, and the elongated filament with a pore at the tip is to allow for respiration.
Cicada moult on a tree. Many species of cicada can be seen within the campus. These bugs spend most of their lives underground. They construct an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge only to reproduce, for a short adult stage lasting several weeks.
Bagworms are a small family of moths belonging to the family Psychidae. Soon after emerging from the egg, the larva of this moth builds a protective case around it. It constructs these bags using naturally available materials: in this case, a few twigs were used, bound using the silk that the larva produces. These are commonly seen around the campus, attached to rocks, trees or fences.
Freshly hatched stink bug nymphs are clustered around the egg mass on a leaf.
A beautifully laid bunch of owlfly eggs.
Different species of geckos can also be seen. This is a day gecko (Cnemaspis sp.), found in both natural and human habitats, and active during the day on trees across the campus of JP Nagar Reserve Forest.