Some Insects and Spiders of Kanha Tiger Reserve

This report is published by The Corbett Foundation
Cover: Amyciaea forticeps feeding on an Oecophyla smargdina with
a Phorid fly sharing in the meal
On behalf of The Corbett Foundation, I studied the insect and spider diversity of Kanha – and this study has revealed some important and interesting facets about Kanha’s ecology. This report is not a publication yet, and it will be some time since it will be made public – but those visiting Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) can visit the KTR head office in Mandla and shuffle through this report in their library, or pay a visit to our centre near Mukki Gate of Kanha where you can sit and browse through our library. This book covers 550 individual specimens of insects and spiders (436 insect species and 114 spider species) along with photographs and notes on their ecology.
Mikia tepens (Walker), a Tachinid considered an "uncommon beauty" by Mik, whose name has been immortalized in this fly's genus, is a rare fly from Kanha Tiger Reserve, a parasite of congregating pine moth caterpillars.
Salient features of insects of Kanha:
· Ants are the most common social insects of KTR, and crickets are the most common solitary ground-dwelling insects.
· There are several first records for Kanha, and central India as a whole: Methocha sp. (Hymenoptera), Pseudagrion splendidissima (Odonata), Tropidomantis sp. (Mantodea), Forcipula sp. (Dermaptera), Cardiophorus notatus and Camposternus sp. (Coleoptera), Mikia tepens (Diptera).
· Covers over 436 photographs of insects including 73 species of butterflies common to Kanha, 9 species of tiger beetles, 47 species of true bugs, 22 species of ants, 24 of grasshoppers, 40 of dragonflies and damselflies, and 9 of praying mantises.
A young Phintella sp. Jumping Spider appears to be sleeping - or undergoing a period
of inactivity called quiescence in a peculiar way probably documented for the first time.
Salient features of spiders of Kanha:
· Lynx spiders are the most common spiders of Kanha, followed by wolf spider, jumping spider, orb weavers, and crab spiders. 
· There are a few first records for Kanha, and Madhya Pradesh as a whole: Deinopis sp. (probably a new species belonging to Deinopidae) and Castianeria sp.(belonging to Corinnidae).
· Covers over 114 colour photographs of spiders, including 30 species of jumping spiders, 7 of wolf spiders, 9 of orb weavers, and others including a Deinopid, Stenochilid, and Oonopid.
Weaver ants, Oecophylla smargdina, form a temporary
bridge between two Mahua branches to carry food.
Bridge formation is a rare trait only seen in ants,
other than humans.
Please note: 
· This document is a work in progress. It was undertaken solely through on-field observations and with the use of on-field photography – no specimens were collected, hence identifications are left blank wherever it was not possible to deduce a confirmed identity of the individual. This is more like a workbook than a proper book, for it only serves to act as a prelude to future in-depth studies about the least known fauna of Kanha Tiger Reserve. 
· It provides a list of 35 species of flora which can be planted to attract insects, along with several recommendations in the form of discussions which can be applied to any landscape.
· Other specifications: 207 pages. Colour. A5 paper.

Tigers of the Undergrowth

“There is no ruckus of langurs, no cacophony of birds, and no trace of the hunt that just took place. The sal trees stand silent, the first rays of the sun now making their way through a crack in the canopy. Standing here, and looking all around, I can see at least seven large orb-webs of the giant wood spider spanning from tree to tree, their anchor-threads that work like beams of a building stretching as long as four metres in length. On shrubs closer to the ground, the web of an orchard spider catches the early sunlight, splitting it in the hues of a rainbow as it dances in the morning breeze. A two-tailed spider, the tree-bark hunter, waits patiently for a passing ant, its excellent camouflage hiding it from prying eyes. In this land of the tiger, another supreme predator has claimed its own niche, and is very much the tiger of the undergrowth – the spider.”
A male Plexippus paykulii explores a moss forest - a microhabitat reminiscent of Kanha's magnificent Sal forests
Studying the diversity of spiders of Kanha Tiger Reserve – the essence of Central Indian Highlands – was enlightening. I contributed an article in Sanctuary Asia’s August edition as an ode to this group of organism that everyone loves to hate – by drawing parallels between the tiger  and the spider – both sharing astonishing similarities albeit their vast differences.

The entire Sanctuary Asia article can be read online here.

A detailed research paper on the same topic can be downloaded here.