Spider rappelling! A great way to get around.


When a spider wants to make a long distance traverse between two objects, or just wants a quick way to ascend an obstacle, what can he do? Lets find out by watching a male crab spider.


Well, as in ballooning, the spider can jet out a thread of silk, letting it be carried by the wind.


The spider then turns and checks the tension on the web to see if it has snagged a target. In this case, there is no tension, so the spider reels in the thread. I am not sure if crab spiders consume the spent silk.


Another try, in another direction.


This time the tension is right, and the spider quickly disappears from the frame.


And arrives safely at another, more lively flower.

Bugs ‘n’ More! Insect outreach with kids


Getting out to talk to kids about bugs has got to be one of the coolest things to do in science outreach….As we did last year, we went to the Richmond Nature Park for their insect (and spider!) show. Great thanks to all the volunteers and especially Emily Toda for putting this together.


Tanya Stemberger was out to get the kids into entomophagy (eating insects), serving up tasty insect treats with Grant Olson. Tanya is subtly indicating that this is going to be awesome.


Grant is a professional in the world of insect cuisine, as he works for Enterra, a company that produces animal feed from insects. Of course, all the bugs served up were human grade!


Catherine Scott was on hand to talk to kids about our native spiders, and to show some great examples, including black widows and jumping spiders. Here she is with a Madagascar hissing cockroach, one of the great insects we had on hand for kids to touch and handle.


It was great to see Mike Hopcraft, the Reptile Guy, back again with his awesome collection of scorpions, tarantulas and more!

We had an absolute blast showing these cool insects and spiders to the kids. If you ever get the chance to do this kind of outreach, DO NOT HESITATE! It is awesome!

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OK, bear with me here. I got so many great shots of kids playing with insects, I put them in a gallery. Just click on the first image below, and a slideshow should appear. Enjoy!


Further shots from Naramata


The Rubber Boa I wrote about yesterday was just the icing on the cake of my recent trip to Naramata.


Here is a large mayfly by the shores of Lake Okanagan.


The owner’s friendly dog at the Village Motel.


My first sighting of a very elegant myrmicine, Manica invidia


One of the coolest wineries in BC!


With the namesake!


This is probably BC’s smallest ant, Solenopsis molesta.


This gives an idea how tiny these ants are!


Another elegant myrmicine, Aphaenogaster occidentalis.

Framed spider art on a fence in town.


A large tenebrionid in a defensive posture.


A Cooper’s Hawk with some prey.



Rubber Boa!


This past weekend, Erin Adams and I were up in Naramata to do some ant surveys. This beautiful little town is right near Penticton on Lake Okanagan. This arid, yet fertile land is home to fruit and wine growing, as well as the wonderful faunal diversity of the northern Great Basin Desert.  One of the great species we have is Canada’s only species of boa, the Rubber Boa (Charina bottae). These gorgeous snakes make their living mainly preying on subterranean nesting mammals, and hence they are difficult to find in the open.

Nonetheless, we set out to find some on the KVR trail above the town.  Erin must have the golden touch, because on the very first rock she flipped sat this lovely female rubber boa.


Erin posing with her catch! They are not big snakes, but they certainly have some impressive constricting muscles.


Me with one of my childhood heroes! Photo by Erin Adams


These snakes have a special place in my heart, because when I was a child, visiting Science North in Sudbury Ontario, I got to hold one of them! This was a great thrill for me, and it was so great to get the opportunity to see these wonderful animals again in the wild. I can personally attest to the lasting effect that brief encounter had on my outlook and interests.


A natural light shot on a warm rock. Apparently, these snakes will roll into a ball with their head tucked in when disturbed, but this individual was not playing that game.


What a great snake to have in Canada. Although they are not yet considered threatened, I certainly hope that enough of their habitat can be conserved so that they may persist.


Island View Beach predators!


Island View Beach was not all bees and high fashion, I also got some cool shots of some awesome predators. First up is this cool robber fly! I think it is in the subfamily Stenopogoninae, but I am by no means an expert.


Here is how I found it, shot with the 300.


Dewy on the perch, the sunlight catches its hairs and bristles nicely.


With some coaxing, I got it to perch on top of the flower.


Robbers are some of my favourite flies, possibly because of how raptorial they are.


It takes them some time to warm up for flight, so they are great subjects for a photographer.


I also saw a couple of juvenile Cooper’s hawks haunting the seaside vegetation. They hunt from perches like robbers, but have a more protracted chase when they spot prey.


As endotherms, these hawks are more difficult to approach!


The tidal shallows at dawn is a great place to find Great Blue Herons, looking marvelous as silhouettes.


Here is what happens when an Ammophila chooses the wrong perch to sleep.


And this is what can happen if a lacewing hits a black widow web!


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