Weekend Expedition 54: Burns Bog and Centennial Beach

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This past weekend, The Spider Crew (Sam Evans, Catherine Scott, Samantha Vibert and Gwylim Blackburn) and I set out to find an elusive and rare gnaphosid in the vast wetness of Burns Bog. Gnaphosa snohomish is supposed to be the only peatland specialist gnaphosid in Canada, and was a great reason to go out to the bog.

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Believe it or not, we all piled into Daisy, a 1984 Toyota Tercel on loan from Sofi Hindmarch. Yeah, it’s got a hemi!

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Samantha examines some riparian flowers on the walk in.

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The Labrador Tea was fragrant and abundant.

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The wild blueberries were in full swing!

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I liked the way the fern was projected on this skunk cabbage.

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In the bog proper, there was evidence of spiders. This belongs to a Hahniid, which Catherine will cover in an upcoming post.

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A very odd construction indeed. An egg sac?

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Sam managed to find a jumper on some blueberries.

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and a crab as well.

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Under the trees, in rotted logs, amaurobiids were common.

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Interestingly, they seem to show a curious “legs up” posture when blown on. We had seen a similar reaction among Ctenids in Honduras.

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An Uloborid with its amazing silk trap set.

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A gorgeous linyphiid on her web. Check out her weird epigynum!

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Samantha and Catherine consult the primary literature in the field. The article in question is: Bennett, R. G., S. M. Fitzpatrick & J. T. Troubridge. Redescription of the rare ground spider Gnaphosa snohomish (Araneae: Gnaphosidae), an apparent bog specialist endemic to the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin area. J. Ent. Soc. Ont. 137: 13-23.

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Our hunt was turning up nothing gnaphbosid like, so we stopped for lunch.

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Spidering makes for healthy appetites, especially when goat cheese, hummus tomato and basil are available.

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Shortly after lunch, it was evident that the black dog of spidering failure had visited us, so we made a move for our second objective: confirmation of a population of black widows at Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen.

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We were shocked at the similarities between this beach and Island View Beach. Each has a shallow bay, a large foreshore protected from high tide, abundant driftwood, sloping fields behind, and a bluff overhanging. The human traffic is a bit more intense at Centennial though.

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Rolling over logs, and what did we find?

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Black widows! Just look at this absolutely gorgeous overwintered male!

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This guy was so spectacular… Almost the size of a young female.

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Females with egg sacs and hatchlings were also around.

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Here is a youngster near an egg sac.

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And a large female with a new egg sac.

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We ended the day back in Vancouver with some ice cream. Overall, a good effort, with 1/2 of our objectives met. We will get you next time Gnaphosa snohomish!

6 thoughts on “Weekend Expedition 54: Burns Bog and Centennial Beach

    • I suppose so!
      Not all of them are this stately. This large size and dark colouration is a peculiarity of the overwinterered males, and probably represents a phenotypic plasticity to take advantage of the overwintered females running low on sperm. I am sure these guys are out and active long before any of the new brood starts to mature.

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