Tag Archive | Spiders

Spider rappelling! A great way to get around.

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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.

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

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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.

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Another try, in another direction.

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

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And arrives safely at another, more lively flower.

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!

Weekend Expedition 52: Return to the exit ramp

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Last week, Catherine Scott, Sam Evans and I returned to the Annacis Island exit ramp to see the amazing array of salticids in all their glory. A rather odd place for a Weekend Expedition, but we found there is abundant life to be found in a noisy, chaotic industrial zone roadway.

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Believe it or not, a concrete barrier provides great habitat for spiders! All the cracks, gaps and holes are good for retreats, and the busy roadway provides an endless source of maimed and stunned insects to serve as prey.

 

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Most of the jumpers we found were smaller sized, but there were a few larger Phidippus as well.

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This Phidippus female looks especially pretty on her drab background.

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One of the most common spiders was Salticus scenicus, the introduced Zebra Jumper.

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Here a Salticus scenicus female munches on a maimed moth.

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Other arthropods are to be found on the concrete as well, such as ground beetles, ants and honeybees.

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We found this crab spider in the rock fill of the bridge. It has a colouration reminiscent of Evarcha jumping spiders.

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I am not sure who this cutie is, but she kept raising her palps up in a really endearing way.

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Here is an Evarcha showing off some stunning eyes.

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I did manage to find another male Habronattus decorus!

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Their colouration is remarkable, but it is hard to convey in a photo!

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Catherine and Sam found a couple male Habronattus ophrys males! We had no idea these beauties were to be found here; we had found them previously at Iona Beach.

 

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Behold the awesome eyebrows and palps!

 

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We stopped for some emergency calories at a local organic eating establishment McDonald’s and found this interesting contraption, well guarded by a furious chihuahua!

 

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Feel the fury!

Weekend Expedition 49: you don’t have to go far!

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This weekend I spent close to home, working on my final thesis tweaks before it goes out to my committee. Instead of going on a proper expedition, I decided to explore our new neighbourhood of Kerrisdale. Right near our house is a largely-disused railway line that has some good habitat, including tall grasses and saplings, so that is where I rambled. In addition to finding the cuckoo wasps on Friday evening, I also saw a bunch of other cool stuff!

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At the top of the grasses where I found the chrysidids, I encountered many large sac spiders (Clubionidae). These fearsome-looking spiders all seemed to be feeding on the same thing: Aphids! With these huge chelicerae and fangs, it seems to be a bit of an overkill!

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Check out the chelicerae on this girl!

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Also interested in aphids, these Myrmica are milking a thriving colony on a sapling. I figure these are Myrmica incompleta, a fairly robust species.

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Myrmica are rather fascinating ants, and a genus I am working with. More on this another day.

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These ants have quite the herd of aphids!

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On a quick trip to Trout Lake (in East Van), I found some little katydid nymphs. These appear to be meadow katydids, a welcome change from the introduced drumming katydids.

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A robust dolichopodid (Long-legged Fly) by the side of Trout Lake. They are quick!

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Not quick enough for this tiger fly (Coenosia spp.)!

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Here is a Coenosia looking regal and dramatic in the sunset.

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This golden dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) was also looking regal (and probably freshly-eclosed).

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Back at the railroad tracks in Kerrisdale, I found these Lasius taking honeydew from a scale insect on an oak sapling.

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and some mating Coleophora deauratella (red clover casebearer).

Weekend Expedition 47: Some shots from Island View Beach

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Catherine and I spent our last full day on the Island visiting her field site at Island View Beach. The weather was cool with a bit of rain, and it was a good time to explore the driftwood and dunes looking for arthropods.

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The Formica obscuripes colony I visited earlier this year was busy and seems to have some reproductives emerging.

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These ants are colourful and charismatic.

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The winged adults were not flying (yet) but seemed ready to do so when conditions are right.

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A dance fly (Empididae) waiting on a grass leaf.

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A male Zebra Jumper (Salticus scenicus) scoping around for females. These guys have massive chelicerae!

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A soldier among workers of the western subterranean termite, Reticulitermes hesperus.

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There were quite a few Dysdera crocata hiding under the logs. Catherine and I learned that these can live up to four years in captivity!

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A particularly large and pretty giant house spider, Eratigena duellica.

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This tiger crane fly bears some superficial similarity to a male black widow… The same long orange-yellow legs with dark joints anyway.

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Another crane fly from head-on.

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I do not know what this spider might be, and this is the only shot I got…Any ideas?

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Tenebrionids live a long and presumably boring life. This one is feeding on moss, which I guess is good, but not my favourite.

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This Phidippus johnsoni was the only other jumper we encountered. The Habronattus were not active.

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Of course, the widows were quite abundant as usual. We saw many females, none with egg sacs, and no males…Our search was not extensive though. We were hoping to see some of the large overwintered morph males such as the one I encountered last week.