Monday, April 10, 2017

9-Apr-2017 Phinney Ridge, Seattle, Washington

Site location map. Click to enlarge.
Now and then an opportunity to tap cones unexpectedly presents itself. That happened this past weekend on a visit to the Phinney Ridge neighborhood in northwestern Seattle. As luck would have it, I found two big western white pines (Pinus monticola) growing on the Phinney Community Center's grounds.  Under them lay cones and needle litter undisturbed by groundskeepers.  Woohoo! There were probably 200 fallen cones available to tap, but I stopped after 50 because those I tapped were so full of spiders that I ran out of time.

Cone source
How full of spiders were they?  Those 50 tapped cones yielded 47 spiders -- almost one spider per cone! The average is about one spider per five cones. The sample contained at least 8 species, 5 of which I could identify with certainty from adult specimens.

Cryptachaea blattea collection sites
The most numerous species in the lot was Cryptachaea blattea, a small introduced theridiid I've tapped from fallen cones in almost a dozen locations in the south Puget Sound urban corridor.  I collected a total of 14 of them from these 50 cones on Phinney Ridge: 2 females, 3 males and 9 juveniles.  Usually I only find a few of them at a time.
Fallen pine cones

Also present in good number were the native microspider Tachygyna vancouverana (7 females) and the introduced crab spider I've been tracking, Ozyptila praticola (2 females and 5 juveniles). Tenuiphantes tenuis and Tachygyna ursina rounded out the list of species represented by mature specimens.
Green Lake as viewed from Phinney Ridge. Pine trees on the right,
Cascade Range on the horizon.

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