Friday, October 17, 2014

Spider hike

A couple of weeks ago, I signed us all up for a docent-led hike that would allow us into Montebello preserve after dark (normally not allowed).  As an added side bonus, it was a spider-themed hike, which was a topic of interest for Nim.  As an added incentive, I picked up a bucket of fried chicken on the way over, so there was a promise of greasy crunchy goodness for dinner up on the hill.

We started in the sun, with characteristic views of oak grassland:

At this point of the day, one can find holes belonging to tarantulas and their close relatives.  I would have dismissed this as a rodent hole, not knowing otherwise.  However, the white thing is the remnants of an old egg sac that the arachnid (just below it) had cleared out of her nest.  If you pick apart the old egg sac, you can actually see the skins from the initial molt of the baby spiders, as they grow a bit and molt before they head out into the big wide world.

Another member of Family Theraphosidae.  We enjoyed our chicken right next to this one's house,

while also enjoying the sunset.

It was dark for the hike back,

so we used red flashlights, which made the orb weavers look particularly Halloween-y.

It is still kind of a spooky spider under normal light:

Most entertaining, however were the scorpions. I did not previously know that: (1) there are scorpions in the area, and (2) they fluoresce under UV light.  One of the docents loaned Nim his flashlight so she could search for the eerie glimmer of glowing scorpions on the bank adjacent to the trail.

 (Chad gets credit for this most excellent photo)

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