Monday, May 18, 2015

24-25 Jun 2009 Chatter Creek & Leavenworth, Washington

Site locations (click to enlarge)
No vacation can be complete without a little cone tapping!  So as we prepared for our road trip to central Washington, I packed my net and sample vials, "just in case".  I knew we'd be in the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) zone at least sometimes. 

Chatter Creek
My first opportunity to tap cones came on 24 June, the day we hiked near the mouth of Chatter Creek.  I didn't want to miss the hike or try the patience of my traveling companions, so I sampled on the fly.  This entailed picking up cones as I walked past them and beating them while walking, only stopping when the debris started getting too thick in the net.  Luckily my companions liked to stop frequently to admire the view, the flora, and the fauna, so it wasn't as disruptive to the flow of the hike as it could have been.

A friend observes the
sample sorting operation
Ponderosa cones
I tapped 11 spiders and 5 species from an unrecorded number of ponderosa cones.  Besides the "pine cone spiders" Euryopis formosa (Theridiidae) and Pholcophora americana (Pholcidae), my sample also included several Cryphoeca exlineae (Agelenidae) and one female Theridion rabuni (Theridiidae).  This was only the second record of T. rabuni having been collected in Washington.

A view of Leavenworth
from my cone sampling site
Ponderosa cones not yet tapped
Checking into our B&B in Leavenworth, I couldn't help but notice that the hill across the street was home to a stand of ponderosa pines.  After breakfast the next morning I darted out for some quick cone tapping before we began the next leg of our road trip.  I collected 8 spiders and 3 species from an unrecorded number of cones.  Like the day before, the sample included the common "pine cone spiders" E. formosa and P. americana, but also 2 females from the uncommon species Mallos pallidus (Dictynidae).

The remainder of our trip was in the mostly treeless Grand Coulee area, but I didn't pine for the pines.  I was happy to have been able to collect these two samples, and contentedly set aside my net for the rest of our journey.

Fantasy flora on a friend's fingernail

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