Monte Bello OSP: Post-Arachnophilia!

I used to be like many people, finding spiders scary and repulsive. But something happened along the way. Now I’m an arachnophile. Can you tell?

JO and I wanted to have another close look at a Calisoga spider, so we got a permit for 10/15/10.

The weather was mild again. We started out at 6:00 and got to the sag pond at 6:20. The Mygalomorph burrow was uncovered again. I had hoped to catch it covered up, since I didn’t get a photo of it the one time it was covered. After 20 minutes and a quick dinner, we headed off to the spider patch.

In the dust of Canyon Trail, there were a few very large tracks, maybe 4″ long.
We found the Cat-faced Spider again, plus the Banded Garden Spider. There was a Labyrinth spider (Metepeira) web nearby. The orb portion was wavy.

Along the trailside, I noticed what looked like a dried mushroom. I passed over it, but decided to take another look. It was a coiled up juvenile rattlesnake!

While looking for scorpions, I came across a UV-fluorescent blob on a fallen branch among other branches on the trailbank. It was as bright as a scorpion, but blue. While I was looking at that, Western Screech-owls had a conversation across the trail.

This year has been a good year for arachnids, Cybaeus no exception.

Somewhere along there, we crossed paths with a different Harvestman. It was dark, large and had very long legs even for a Harvestman. It was on a mission, but as we tried to block it to get a photo, it climbed up JO’s pant leg, disappearing for a while and finally ending up on his head. I picked it off, and it ended up climbing all over me too. We never did get a photo, but that was amusing.

And Calisogas. We came across one near the big intersection around 9:00, and spent the rest of our time examining this very cooperative spider. Perhaps he had already mated; he barely moved for the half hour or more that we looked at him. We couldn’t see the third claw that they have, but we could see the scalloped sternum, pointed posteriorly, and the 2 spines on the tibia.

We’ve read that they’re aggressive, but none of the Calisogas that we’ve come across have been so. Maybe they knew that we weren’t out to collect them. We placed the Calisoga on the trailside.

We only got about as far as the big intersection with the Stevens Creek Nature Trail (no big surprise).

On our return to the trailhead, we checked the other Mygalomorph burrow that we’d found on 10/2. It was occupied, and we tried to coax the spider out with a piece of grass. It clung to the stem as far as just below the opening, but wouldn’t come out all the way. We left it alone after a couple of photos.

We came across another small Solifugid on the last trail section. In previous years, we’ve been lucky to see them at all, but this year we’ve seen multiples.

You can see photos here.

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Did you know? The IUCN List of Threatened Species comes up with 11 arachnids in North America (search by taxonomy=”arachnida” and location=”North America”). All of them say “needs updating”.

Spiders and their relatives don’t tend to be at the top of the list of most people when it comes to saving species. But check out this recent news from the UK. And for some spider fun, try “Spot the Spider” (a third of the way down), actually a camouflage study.