Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Some Stupendous Spring Spiders...

Spring has finally sprung in Nova Scotia! After a l-o-n-g cold and very (very!) snowy winter, this insect (and other macro nature) photographer was overjoyed to finally get out and get some photos. Some of the first "insects" that I've encountered have been some new, and I don't hesitate to say stupendous, spiders. This little Salticid or jumping spider, Habronattus decorus, barely 5mm or so long (less than 1/4") with its bold blue-white and cinnamon colouration, was particularly common as it hunted around the early blooming mayflowers (Epigaea repens). Photographed at Roaches Pond on May 10, 2015.

As far as I can recall this is the very first "running crab spider" that I've ever encountered. I found a number of these dark Tmarus angulatus spiders sunning themselves on alder and birch saplings near Mt. Uniacke on May 5, 2015. A week later they were nowhere to be found...

Finally, the pièce de résistance of my spring spider surprises is my first Nova Scotia encounter with a lichenmarked orbweaver, Araneus bicentenarius. These spiders grow to monumental proportions in the southern part of their range and it is not uncommon to find specimens that are 5 cm (2") or more from chelicerae to spinnerets, with webs that are 6 metres (20 feet) or more across. This one, photographed May 16, 2015 in the Pockwock watershed near Mt. Uniacke, was about 13mm (1/2") long, a respectable size for an early spring orbweaver. I do have to admit that I never really appreciated the "lichenmarked" colloquial name until I saw this one (as you can no doubt see yourself).

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