Friday, May 13, 2016

9-May-2016 Gold Bar to West Lake Stevens, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
I finally was available on a weekday to continue my search for Ozyptila praticola (Thomisidae) along busy Route 2 east of Snohomish.  This timing was important because this stretch of road becomes a traffic jam on weekends when the weather is inviting. As further traffic strategy, and with the bonus that I could stop for a fortifying burger at Zeke's before getting to work, I decided to start the day's sampling in Gold Bar and then work my way back westward.  In addition to Gold Bar I collected samples in Startup, Sultan, Monroe and West Lake Stevens.

Gold Bar

Gold Bar grocery store cone
Fallen cones at the Gold Bar grocery
lay on needle litter over pavement
Not spotting any accessible fallen pine cones in Gold Bar, I opted for Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) cones.  Douglas-fir is ubiquitous in the region, but isn't a reliable cone to tap during the rainy season because it closes its scales when wet.  But now that we've had some warm, dry weather, scales on sun-exposed cones are at least partially open.  I quickly found two accessible cone deposits, one along the edge of a grocery store parking lot, and the other across Route 2 in the wooded park bordering the railroad tracks.  I tapped 50 cones by the grocery store and collected 6 spiders.  The only immediately identifiable species was O. praticola, represented by a single juvenile specimen.  I collected 7 more spiders from 50 tapped cones in the park, but none were O. praticolaEnoplognatha thoracica (Theridiidae) dominated that sample.

Startup & Sultan

Startup cones: not attractive to spiders
Sultan cone site looked bleak, but
Bassaniana utahensis loved it!
The only accessible cones I could find in Startup were laying along a fence next to Startup's baseball diamond.  They held but one spider, a juvenile Tibellus (Philodromidae).  In Sultan I found actual pine cones to tap under a black pine (Pinus nigra) growing in the post office parking lot.  I tapped the usual 50 cones and collected 5 spiders, four of them Bassaniana utahensis (Thomisidae).


A "mall pine" grows between a
parking lot & railroad tracks in Monroe
Fallen cone microhabitat in Monroe
Monroe is much more urbanized than the other Route 2 towns I'd visited this day, so it didn't take long at all to find numerous black pine cones to tap.  I've come to refer to the black pine as "the mall pine" because for some reason developers love to plant this introduced species in strip mall parking lots and along shopping center boundaries.  In this regard Monroe is no different, and so I was quickly able to home in on some black pines bordering a parking lot.  I tapped 50 cones and collected 11 spiders and two identifiable species: Tachygyna ursina, a tiny linyphiid I frequently find in cones in this part of the state, and O. praticola.  Unlike the juvenile specimen I collected in Gold Bar, the O. praticola in my Monroe sample were females and so were unequivocally identifiable.

West Lake Stevens

W. Lake Stevens "mall pine"
Fallen cone microhabitat in
West LakeStephens
With an hour to spare after my stop in Monroe, I decided to take a slight detour to the north and grab one last sample in West Lake Stevens.  As in Monroe, I was quickly able to find 50 black pine cones to tap in West Lake Stevens.  This turned out to be the richest sample of the day, both in number of spiders collected (16) and identifiable species present (3).  Phrurotimpus borealis (Phrurolithidae) made up a full half of the catch, much like one of the samples I took recently in the neighboring city of Snohomish.  I found no O. praticola, however.

A female Bassaniana utahensis tapped from a pine cone in Sutlan, Washington
Friendly kitty at Zeke's who wanted very much to share my hamburger

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