Monday, September 23, 2013

Night walks

Night Walks...

 Ripper and I walked our trail the other night as we do occasionally.  Pleasant way to walk in the warmer weather.   I use an LED headlamp I acquired at Wally World for less than $10.  I chose one that used AAA batteries, not button batteries.

What we saw was brilliant little points of light shimmering like diamonds scattered everywhere, in the woods, in the lawn.  I learned about these in Belize, though I forget who shared.  They are spiders.

Mostly wolf spiders.  There are 100 genera and approximately 2,300 species according to Wikipedia.  They are mostly nocturnal. They are sight hunters. They have two eyes that are more prominent than the other four facing forward, suggesting binocular vision.  Most of the nocturnal spiders are quite small.  The larger are revealed by being able to distinguish their pair of primary eyes.  In our walks we have seen densities of up to 1 per square foot, so they are a major component of many ecosystems.

Typical Wolf Spider family Lycosidae

Photo by Patrick Edwin Moran who shared this on Wikipedia

One other creature we encountered on a night walk was a Marbled Salamander.  Normally I see these guys when I turn over logs or rocks.  They come out at night during the breeding season, Sept-Nov. to search for mates.  Males have white bands while females have grey. The photo below is one I found under a rock and posed on some moss. 

Marbled Salamander, Ambystoma opacum

Linda and I went on a nightwalk in Costa Rica once looking for Fer-de-lance snakes.  Our guides found several small snakes along a stream bed. Fer-de-lance, Bothrops asper, means  iron spear head.  They and their kin are commonly referred to as Lance Heads.

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