A group of ten, including JO, SW and me, met at Monte Bello OSP for our first “official” spider night hike on 10/9/10. (I say official, because as anyone who knows us knows, every hike is a spider hike…) It was a very successful one, albeit more of a meander than a hike. We met at 5:15 p.m. There was a surprising number of cars in the lot (not all ours).
We passed a few juvenile fence lizards on the way to the walnut grove. We found a spider hole in the ground; the hole was perfectly round and had a little silk at least around the inside edge. We marked it to check it on our way back.
There was a Cat-faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides) in the oats/grass near the road, and another nearby. We explained how to find the spider (if not in the web) by following the signal line.
At the sag pond we stopped for dinner. The spider hole was covered over, and I only recognized it because I had looked at a leaf in the photo I took before, which seemed to show some silk purposely attached to said leaf. I don’t remember who told me a long time ago that these silk-lined holes in the ground were tarantula holes, but this one made me question that.
A small dark wolf spider passed by and I captured it while JO talked about the different arachnids. After everyone got a look, we released it. We headed off around 6:30, to get to the “spider patch” before sunset.
There were two Argiope trifasciata and an Araneus gemmoides or two at the patch. Here SW gave a brief overview of how an orb web is made.
We headed uphill and saw a bat or two in the open areas, plus a large owl fly by. Once it was dark enough, we saw a few California Forest Scorpions. When we came to the tree in which another Cat-faced Spider had a web, the spider was very visible but there wasn’t much of a web. On the return, I was behind and saw that she had finished rebuilding it.
We saw a few possible Cybaeus sp., two small Calisoga Spiders along the way, and another 2-3 larger ones. Near the “gravel pit”, we got one into a baggie to look at it more closely. It was very cooperative, and didn’t move while we looked at its ventral side. It was not aggressive at all.
JO spotted a Solifugid near the edge of the trail. We took a look at it also.
We went just past the pit to the edge of the woods, then turned back. I lagged behind for a bit, and found a Jerusalem Cricket and a millipede crossing the trail.
We found two turret spiders, three Harvestmen, another Jerusalem Cricket, and lots of crickets on the trail. Some of us stopped to see if the sag pond burrow was open, and it was. A Calisoga spider was at the edge of the road.
The owls were surprisingly quiet compared to on our scouting hike. The temperature was mild, probably mid-60’s.
The burrow in the trail that we’d spotted on the way in was occupied, and the last section of trail had two small Solifugids.
We were surprised to see headlights as we approached the trailhead; there was a permitted star party going on.
This was a very successful hike as far as finding arachnids. Next time we’ll have to call it a “meander”…
More photos are here.