Saturday, June 13, 2009

Now you see it, now you don't ...

Philodromus sp. ... this agile spider is a member of the family Philodromidae, the Running Crab Spiders. This arachnid can certainly can move with alacrity but when it stops it virtually disappears into the background of the bark it resembles. As well as acting as a defense against predation, the spider's speed and camouflage serve it well in its role as a predator, as this species actively hunts for its quarry rather than building a web.

Two major body sections and eight legs but not a spider, this is an immature Harvestman or "Daddy Longlegs". This arachnid also relies on camouflage for its survival.

Although the markings and colors are indistinct, I think the insect in the next photo is likely a Mosaic Darner (Aeshna sp.). Despite its size it's difficult to see against the background of bark. This is the teneral form of the dragonfly, it just emerged from its watery home and shed its larval skin overnight. The wings look like gossamer and the exoskeleton is still soft but by tonight they will harden and the insect will assume its role in nature as a hunter of the air.

Catocala or Underwing Moths are common insects but the pattern and color of their forewings makes these large moths difficult to see. A little of the brightly colored hindwings are visible ... depending on the species these wings have red, pink, yellow or white bands.