Tuesday, May 12, 2015

15-18 Oct 2011, Klickitat County Expedition Part 1, Washington

Vernita Rest Area location
Since we'd had such a successful field trip to the Okanogan Highlands earlier in the summer, Rod and I decided to embark on an even more extensive expedition to Benton and Klickitat counties.  It would be my last spider collecting hurrah before moving to Massachusetts.

Vernita Rest Area shaded by planted
ponderosa pines

We headed first for Richland in Benton Co., where Rod hoped to complete a partial sample taken years before.  The Richland site didn't hold much promise for pine cone tapping, but on our way there we stumbled upon a planted ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) grove at the Vernita Rest Area in Mattawa.

Egg sacs like this were common
on cone scales at Vernita
I already knew from tapping cones at Ginkgo Petrified Forest that spiders utilize the cones of ponderosas planted in the Columbia plateau shrublands.  And sure enough, the cones at Vernita were busy with spiders.  I tapped 52 cones and collected a whopping 66 spiders and 6 species.  Juvenile Philodromus (Philodromidae) crab spiders, a few identifiable as P. spectabilis, made up over half of the specimen count.  I wonder whether these juveniles had emerged from the egg sacs that I found on many cone scales?

Klickitat County locations (click to enlarge)
The remainder of our sampling sites were more or less centered around Goldendale in Klickitat County.  Our first stop was Pine Springs Resort near Satus Pass on Rte 97, where I spent the night in a tiny cabin and Rod pitched his tent under the trees in front.  I woke the following morning to find Rod and his tent both thoroughly soaked from rain.  Apparently I slept very soundly, because I never heard poor deluged Rod pounding on my door during the midnight downpour!  Good thing he had a car key, and could sleep there.

Yet another big friendly bunny!
Big friendly bunny
The next morning, while Rod warmed up in my cabin, I headed into the nearby oak and pine woods, thinking I could squeeze in a quick cone sample before we headed into town.  I found plenty of ponderosa pines, but no cones.  As we packed the car, several very large domesticated rabbits hopped over to check out our food-vending potential.  They had excavated warrens under the cabins.

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