Monte Bello OSP

Light-colored tarantula

JO, SW, KG and I scouted for Arachnophilia! on 9/24/12. We first went to Russian Ridge to check out the spider burrow mentioned in another post, then went down the hill. We started off at 5:20.

There were a lot of baby fence lizards. On the first stretch of trail, we found a freshly dug tarantula hole. Nearby, a mantis perched on some star thistle. It was camouflaged against the dry grass. This one too was an introduced species.

At the sag pond, the Calisoga burrow was open. We went on to check the lower part of Bella Vista. On the first high dirt bank, a spider hole had been housecleaned. A tangled web appeared to be that of a black widow. Black and yellow wasps hung around a coyote brush, and we noticed ants climbing up. We spent 15-20 minutes checking that area.

We returned to Canyon Trail, where there were no large orb weavers as in previous years, and decided to have dinner at the bench at the bottom of the hill. We sat for 25 minutes and left at 6:45.

Checking the holes and turrets on the way down the hill, we took about 50 minutes to arrive at the lower nature trail intersection. On the way down on a high bank, we found birds’ nest fungi.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the active spider hole that has been here for a long time. We hope that the spider has mated and has just closed up the hole. Across from the sag pond, a labyrinth spider (Metepeira) had a web. That’s a new one for this area. We found another on the way to the gravel pit.

It was after sunset when we arrived at the pit at 8:10 after checking the intersection and other areas along the way. A harvester ant nest had a few ant crickets running around, and there were a few very tiny (1-2mm) ants nearby. There was still an alate ant in a different nest, waiting around for the right time to leave.

We decided to go another .1 mile, but didn’t see anything so we turned around. While in this area, we heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl tooting. We also heard Great Horned and Western Screech-owl. We returned to the intersection at 8:35.

Besides a couple of unidentified spiders, we saw various harvestmen, a Cybaeus-type spider, and camel and other crickets. We checked the Calisoga hole and another, and found them occupied. At 9:40, we turned towards the walnut grove.

A surprise was to find 3 small Solifugids on the trail. Near the bench, an immature female black widow had a web, with ant carcasses stuck in it. Another nice sighting was a light-colored tarantula in good shape, head down in a shallow hole in the middle of the trail.

Despite the lack of arachnids on the way in, we were pleased to find them on the way out. We got back close to 10:30. One more sighting: a cat-faced spider in the bathroom! That’s natural fly control for you.

Here are more photos.


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