Monday, June 8, 2015

5-Jun-2015 Paradise Valley Conservation Area, Washington

Site location (click to enlarge)
On a whim Marie Rose and I decided to hike at Paradise Valley Conservation Area, a real gem that opened to the public only 5 years ago.  I brought along my net and vials "just in case", and this time it paid off.  Forest Ridge Trail brought us alongside several mature western white pines (Pinus monticola) growing amid the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) that dominate this forest.  Western white pines aren't a dominant species anywhere in Washington, so finding them is hit-and-miss.  When it happens, it's a real treat.

Sample site
Fallen cones
Many cones were still sticky with resin and had that "sugar frosted" appearance of newer white pine cones.  All were laying on needle litter.  The understory was sparse under the pines, with only the occasional fern sprig or bit of salal (Gaultheria shallon) growing nearby.

I had no trouble finding my customary 50 cones to tap, and they produced 30 spiders and 3-4 species as well as numerous pseudoscorpions and two species of harvestmen.  But which spider species, exactly?  I don't know!  If my recent Seattle samples had me feeling a little more confident in my ability to identify spiders, the present sample has reminded me that I still have a steep learning curve ahead of me.  Fortunately Rod is happy to sit down with me later and work through some IDs.

Walckenaeria columbia,
the first spider Mouseketeer?
Thomisid exuvium from cone
In the mean time, I'm posting this photo (left) of one of the linyphiids in the sample, since I am amused that her epigynum looks like a Mickey Mouse hat.  Rod has seen the photo and says that "the 'mouse ears' are the seminal receptacles (internal) visible through the translucent integument of the epigynal plate".  Either that, or this spider vacationed Disneyland.  We may never know the whole truth.  And while I'm at it, here's a photo (right) of a thomisid crab spider's exuvium that I found in a cone.  When the microscope light shines through it, it's quite beautiful.

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