Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Along came a Running Crab Spider ...

Always look twice! At first glance I mistook this arachnid for a Wolf Spider, but it is not. This spider is a female Thanatus sp., a Running Crab Spider of the family Philodromidae. Here's a link to an image of Thanatus sp. at BugGuide.Net.

The photo was taken near the same location I encountered the Red Efts, east of Highway #37, about one kilometer south of Actinolite – not far from Buttermilk Falls where I stumbled across the Striped Fishing Spider (Dolomedes scriptus) last autumn.

A mug shot is desirable when identifying spiders as their eye patterns are characteristic for a given family.

I found this Running Crab Spider lurking on the trees near Stoco Lake; I think it's genus Philodromus. Had the spider not moved, I never would have spotted it – its resemblance to the lichens and bark in the background is uncanny.

A tiny male crab spider, about 3 mm to 4 mm long ... I'm going to call this Mecaphesa sp. pending a response to an ID request at BugGuide.Net. However, I might be out of luck on getting an ID, my camera was unable to take a picture of the eyes.

At about 6 mm in length this female Ground Spider is also on the small side, that's my pinky finger she's sitting on. Definitely family Gnaphosidae, probably genus Zelotes. Normally a beautiful glossy black, it took a bit of a dusting when captured it for a closeup shot.

A female Nursey Web Spider (Pisaurina mira) striking a rather dramatic pose on a dead leaf.

No problem getting a good image of the eye pattern of this large spider, its body was close to 25 mm long.

Ouch!!! This is my number one photo from the trip to Presqu'ile Provincial Park back in mid-March ... a tick. I think this is a male Deer Tick a.k.a. Black-legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis), a potential vector of Lyme's Disease – I gave my little friend a nice swim in isopropyl alcohol and kept the specimen just in case.

Images of some tick species

This is not intended to frighten people or discourage them from visiting our parks and conservation areas. The parks I've visited thus far have warning signs posted, and no doubt there are ticks in the Tweed area as well. In all my wanderings through the years in woods and fields, this is the first time I've been bitten by one of these (no pun intended) little suckers. But having said that – be aware.

This is my little hitchhiker with a penny and a toothpick to impart a sense of scale. I didn't get bitten until after I got home, and the bite didn't appear to penetrate my skin. Needless to say I showered with lots of soap and water, washed all the clothing I had been wearing, went over my body with a fine-toothed comb (figuratively speaking, that is), and checked everything else I had taken to the park with me that may have come into contact with ticks.