spiders


Spider on Sandogardy Pond

Spider on Sandogardy Pond


I was at Sandogardy Pond Saturday and saw this spider hanging out on the surface of the pond. I think it’s pretty cool the way they can take advantage of surface tension to walk on water.

In other news, I just wanted to say that I am astounded Vermont has not been getting more news coverage following TS Irene. In my blogroll I have a link to Little Bang Theory. I have been reading his blog for a year or two. He lives in Western MA near Southern VT, and he has some jaw-dropping photos of the devastation there. His account is heartbreaking.

Next month the Pathfinders are scheduled to have our annual Fall Camporee at Molly Stark State Park. We expect clubs from all over VT, NH, and ME. But I just don’t see how it’s possible that we will be able to camp at Molly Stark after looking at the photos. Google Maps has removed portions of route 9 in southern VT, because Irene has removed portions of it from the face of the earth. Molly Stark is on a closed section of that road (which is a major thoroughfare in that area).

There’s a chance that I will deploy with ACS after all. We do not have an agreement with the state of VT, so setting things up will take longer. Also, I don’t know what good a warehouse would do, since it is not possible to deliver goods to the stricken areas of VT via the roads. You can’t get there from here!

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On Monday a friend and I spent part of the day replacing some trees at the church. We had bought eight trees last September – four red maples, and four red/silver hybrids. I dunno if we have McCarthyites around us or not, but it seems like “better dead than red” was the rule of the day. None of the red maples survived.

Luckily, the trees were guaranteed for a year, but that year was almost over. So we hustled over there, got a refund, and bought some replacement trees. This time they are all red/silver hybrids.

The plan is to have an iron fence about five feet from the tree line, between the trees and the road. Somebody else had already dug about 20 fence post holes. I don’t know who it was, but it was done several weeks ago. The reason I bring it up is because each and every hole now has exactly one Argiope spider living in it.

Argiope trifasciata

Argiope trifasciata


Argiope autantia

Argiope autantia


I didn’t have my camera on Monday when we planted the trees, but I did have it today, so I took several shots. These are the best I was able to do (though I think I could do better).

These spiders are huge. Their bodies are pushing two inches. Add in the legs, and they are easily four inches long. Big as they are, they are also perfectly harmless.

I do not yet have a positive id on them. I’ll post to Bugguide later for that. But in the meantime, you can enjoy these.

Tonight Beth had a piano recital. I can’t remember the name of the first song she played, but it was composed by F. J. Hayden.

Beth playing Hayden

Beth playing Hayden

Of course I heard her play this song about 900 times over the past two months, and at every tempo imaginable. I bought her a metronome (same day I bought David a guitar), and she would set it insanely slow and play along. Then she’d set it insanely fast and play it that way too. All that practice must have helped, because she nailed it tonight.

Her second piece was “Bless Be the Ties That Bind” which had received similar metronome treatment. That was the finale for the recital (there were about eight kids there total).

Rewinding the day a bit…

Jonathan and I worked an hour later tonight, then hit Taco Bell for dinner. He dropped me off at the church to wait for Va and Beth while he went on to his class. I took a few photos while I waited. The first thing I noticed was that the milkweed was in bloom:

Ladybug on a Milkweed Bloom

Ladybug on a Milkweed Bloom


On that same cluster of blossoms there was a menace biding her time:
Goldenrod Spider in Waiting

Goldenrod Spider in Waiting


The spider didn’t seem to happy that I showed up and started poking around with a lens. I think she thought I was going to blow her cover. But I didn’t. The beetle never seemed to notice. I moved on before any drama began. If you look closely at the ladybug shot, you can see this spider lurking at the lower right. Cool.

There was lots of crown vetch in bloom too. I liked this shot:

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Today was our Investiture service for the Adventurers and Pathfinders. It went pretty well! David was named the Pathfinder of the Year, and he seemed surprised by that. I thought it was well merited though (which is why I choose him for that). I still need to order some insignia that was either out of stock, unavailable, or that I had forgotten, but I can do that sometime next week. The rush is off.

When we got home I took a nap. Va woke me up around 6:00pm because she had made a homemade pizza. She makes the best crust I have ever eaten. Normally, supper has to struggle to get me to end a nap, but not this time.

After dinner I went for a walk about the yard. I found some spittle on a blade of grass:

Spittle

Spittle


This spittle is made by spittlebug nymphs. They exude these bubbles to hide themselves from predators. It doesn’t work against amateur naturalists such as myself. I dove in and felt around for the spittlebug, but didn’t find one here. I moved on and found a tiny little spider on a milkweed leaf nearby:
Spider on Milkweed

Spider on Milkweed


I don’t know what kind of spider she is yet, but I haven’t tried to figure it out yet either. She had several eggs on the leaf with her, and in fact, that was the first thing I had noticed. When I looked closer, I found her too.

I moved on to the front of the property, and by then Beth had joined me. We walked along the road by the ditch, and I saw more spittle. Again, I jammed my finger in looking for a spittlebug. This time I hit pay-spit:

Spittlebug Nymph

Spittlebug Nymph


Again, I don’t know the exact species. But I thought the photo came out pretty OK! My Audubon Field Guide to Insects and Spiders only shows one species of spittlebug, so I’m going to have to look elsewhere. Spittlebugs are spread across five families (which is the level above genus in the taxonomic hierarchy). Kaufman’s (and Eaton’s!) Field Guide to Insects of North America shows three species, and says there are 54 in the US and Canada. I wouldn’t want to guess this one’s identity based on only three to compare against. This might be a job for Bugguide.