You don’t need a DSLR, professional science equipment, or even a really expensive smartphone to get up close with spiders (or any other bugs). I’ve been using my cheap-ass smartphone and gear cobbled together from the dollar store for years. So, here’s what I’m using right now, as well as some recommendations for other stuff I’ve used in the past. Continue reading My spidering kit
I’ve updated my post on CBC Radio stream URLs after someone found links to MP3 versions of the streams. I’ve put together a second playlist which will work for older applications like Winamp that don’t support HLS. Yes, there are multiple people out there still using Winamp. I guess it really does whip the llama’s ass.
Summer spidering season is well underway, and I’m no longer turning over pineconesin search of spiders. But I just stumbled across this 2016 blog post by Rod Crawford (of Seattle, WA’s Burke Museum) about Laurel Ramseyer’s research! Since 2008 she’s been sampling fallen pinecones for spiders—apparently a niche unexplored till now. This turned up the first record of the jumping spider Pseudoeuophrys lanigera in North America and has also proved useful for tracking the range of the crab spider Ozyptila praticola.
In 2015, Ramseyer and Crawford wrote a paper summarizing their findings about the pinecone-dwelling spiders of Washington State. A lot of mesh-web weavers (family Dictynidae), ground spiders (Gnaphosidae), sheet-web weavers and dwarf spiders (Linyphiidae), and cobweb spiders (Theridiidae). A lot different from all the running crab spiders (Philodromus) in my lakeside pinecones. They also mention finding a lot of Euryopis, a spider I’ve failed to find at all in my area despite seeing their distinctive tufty egg sacs all the time. Maybe that’s where I should be looking.
Well, I’m back. Much like a tarantula, I felt the need to seal myself into a burrow for several months on end for no particular reason. This isn’t even close to covering the backlog. But here is a sprinkling of arachnid-related art, news, and science from the last several months, including:
I just love red velvet mites—their soft, plush coats, their Shar-Pei wrinkles, that eye-popping red. Until now, all I’d really seen of their behaviour was eating midges, aphids, and other small insects. But recently I saw something quite astonishing for the first time. Continue reading Field journal: Sumo mites
“Like Rodney Dangerfield, obsessive collectors get no respect. The word ‘trainspotter’, which refers to a railway enthusiast, is, in British English, synonymous with ‘loser’, and there is indeed something slightly tragic about someone who spends all their free time looking for things the rest of us find pointless.”
A few days ago, suffering from cabin fever, I went down to the Sunnyside boardwalk to flip rocks and see what I could find. Pickings were meagre at first, but I struck pay dirt with a pinecone! Pinecones will now be part of my winter spider-hunting repertoire. Continue reading Field Journal: A Sunnyside pinecone
What are the Kibitzers? The Kibitzers are to journalism as the IgNobel Prizes are to science. They reward reporting that captures human nature, current events, and the world around us in a way that leaves you asking, “What the fuck did I just read?” Many pieces are genuinely unique and useful; others, not so much.
Throughout this hell year I’ve been avoiding the news for my sanity, so I’ve obviously missed a lot. Late nominations are heartily welcome.