Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A shy spider, jumping boldly

Brace yourself for more spider photos.  It is Arachtober, after all.

This is the same P. audax jumping spider from my last post.  Did I mention that I have given this spider a name?  Her name is Koko.  Like the gorilla who communicates in sign language.  Looks all big and hairy and scary, but she's really a big sweetie. Just like my spider.

It can be difficult to get her out of her container. She prefers the safety of her little silk sac.

Eventually, she crept toward the opening.

I was able to turn the jar over and tap gently to get her on the grass, where she continued to hide...

... in various positions..

Do you agree that she looks like a tiny gorilla? With extra legs, a few extra eyes, and big green fangs?

I had the brilliant idea to put Koko in a big plastic tub to make it easier for me to focus on her, and harder for her to hide.

But Koko was getting ideas of her own...

One second, she appeared to be reaching up...

And the next second...

And that was the end of our photo shoot for today!

Monday, September 08, 2014

A little spider-wrangling on a Monday morning

Arachnophobes, be warned. This post contains several pictures of a spider at fairly close range. Proceed at your own discretion.

Yesterday I went on a long and mostly uninspiring bug-walk at the arboretum.  I was by myself, just scouting around for my upcoming Bug Safari tour this weekend.  I really wanted to find a nice big praying mantis, but I found none.  None!   Maybe it's just my bad luck, but this just hasn't been a big year for the mantids.  I should have kept the few that I found earlier this summer, but I didn't because I figured I could always find another one.  That is proving to be harder than I thought.

So anyway, I had wandered to the far south end of the gardens, and had just started making my way back, when I noticed something moving among some tall grass stems.  It was a big black jumping spider. I love jumping spiders in general, because they are about as "cute" as a spider can get, with shorter legs and bigger eyes than most other spiders.  This species, Phidippus audax, can get pretty big, which (to me) just makes it "more to love".

I managed to get her into the collecting container I had brought along in case I found a mantis, after which I found another, even bigger P. audax, but that one was too fast for me.  I decided to quit while I was ahead and brought her home.

After pretty much leaving her alone overnight, I decided this morning that I would feed her, and then get her out of the little mesh container and try to take her picture.  She quickly caught the 2 flies I put in for her, and after she had finished eating them (or sucking the juices out of them) I tried putting her in a shallow white container, hoping that it would keep her contained and well visible for her photo shoot.

I should mention at this point, that jumping spiders are much more active than, say, orb-weavers, or black widows. (and nobody wants to see a black widow spider running around trying to climb out of a lidless shallow container!)  But anyway, this spider almost never stopped moving.

She alternated between running around the container wall...

And hiding from my flash.  Seriously, what if you had 8 eyes and somebody was taking your picture with a flash from 3 inches away?  And you had no eyelids?

Trying to make a break for it.

She did get out a few times.  After chasing her around the top of my patio table, trying not to hurt her, and wondering how much messing-with she would tolerate before she actually tried to bite me, I got the brilliant idea of just setting her down on the grass and taking her picture out there, in natural light.
My grass is short, and I was confident that I wouldnt lose her.  And I was right.  I was able to get a few more shots.

And here she is on my hand. You can see she's really not that big. Just about big enough, though!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

My first Black Witch moth!

Jerry texted this picture to me while he was out walking the dog.  He knew I would be impressed by the size of the moth, even though it was dead and covered with ants.    I didn't see it until 4 minutes later, but I called him as soon as I did, and asked him to please blow the ants off it and bring it home.  And of course, he did.

A Black Witch moth.  Up against a ruler, you get a better idea just how big it was.

The underside.

Dead, but still a nifty find.  Hopefully the next one will be alive!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Sluggish in summer

This pretty, pale slug was enjoying the gunk that grows in the bottom of the birdbath.  My birdbath rests on the ground, and this slug, I later found out, lives under it.

My blogging has also been sluggish, I know.  Don't know what to say about that.  I still like the bugs.  Just not interested in blogging.   I will leave Bug Safari up, because there's a lot of great pictures and information.  I think there are a bunch of comments hung up in moderation-limbo.  I'm very sorry if one of them is yours.   I will try to go through them soon.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A pretty spider in late November

I had planned for a leisurely walk through the arboretum today, hoping to find a few bugs and take a few pictures. I was dismayed but not surprised to find that I have pretty much forgotten how to work my Canon camera that I bought last spring. Seriously. (I can also attest that, in spite of the time-worn saying that assures, "You never forget how to ride a bicycle", I have.)

But I was fairly satisfied with this photo of a Banded Argiope spider in a clump of tall grass. Argiope is a common orb-weaver, harmless to people. It has been a few years since I saw the black and yellow kind at the arboretum, and I'm pretty sure this was my first banded one. So it was nice to find her. Hopefully there is a male out there for her, and she will have (or maybe already had) a chance to mate and lay eggs, and maybe next year there will be more of these hideous and lovely creatures. And hopefully by then, I will have re-learned how to use my camera. Hopefully.

Banded Argiope
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