7.08.2005

Today, In the Woods

Yellowflies are still out in droves, the ticks are plentiful, and the humidity is ridiculous -- must be the perfect day to check on the orchids we have been waiting to bloom!

It really wasn't so bad. There was so much to see we hardly even noticed the flies...yeah, right. :)


This red-bellied water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster erythrogaster) was a tad out of place. We saw him in the beech woods on the high side of the trail. Must have been looking for a tasty toad to munch.



This is the flower that had us out and about today. It is the Small Green Woodland Orchid, Platanthera clavellata. We have been watching and waiting for it to bloom for well over a month now. We weren't sure of the species until we saw the flowers.



We were quite excited to find this butterfly today. While worn and weary-looking, it's special because it is a species we hadn't seen before, Feniseca tarquinius, common name Harvester. The caterpillars of this species feed on woolly aphids -- that's right, carnivorous caterpillars!



Don't know, don't wanna know. :)

A splash of color in the woods caught my eye so I went off-trail to investigate (people can be so creative with their litter). What I found was this blob of...what? Fungus? Protist? Not too sure about this stuff.




I had to open a locked gate on the fire road. A rather large family of black widows had set up house-keeping on the post -- these are a few of the babies. Mama widow was tucked away alongside a counter-sunk bolt. She was really pretty, but I couldn't get a picture of her.



I did manage to get several pictures of this beauty, though. Too bad I couldn't get the shot of her running up my arm -- I couldn't believe how heavy she was. No clue as to what type of spider this is, but I'll keep looking.

Meanwhile, take another look at her big, beautiful spider butt. Outstanding!



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Probable ID on the spider: Giant Lichen Orbweaver, Araneus bicentenarius

12 comments:

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

That red stuff has got to be some kind of candy. Like a slightly chewed ball of bubble gum maybe or even Starbursts? Surely it's not something naturally occurring? It’s up to you Swampy…go back and…LICK it!

And I agree, that butt does sort of stand out!

Anvilcloud said...

Keep them coming as long as you want. They're always great.

Ginger said...

Very cool spider!

Watchmania said...

I'd like to know what that blobby red stuff is, too. I dimly remember seeing something similar here in Britain many years ago. It looks like the sort of stuff that doubles in size every hour until at last it engulfs a cinema ...

swamp4me said...

SGR, it was quite impressive stuff. I'll keep my eye on the papers to see if there is any news of movie theaters gone missing...

Giner, I'm glad you like the spider. She certainly impressed us. I'll bet she weighed half an ounce (14 g).

AC, we had another Canadian visitor last night. This one was from Calgary.

Mr. B., lick it, huh. But it might be strawberry Starbursts and I don't like the strawberry ones. ;)

Floridacracker said...

Is the red stuff a slime mold? I have only seen yellow slime molds, but it sure looks like one to me. They creep along digesting things before stopping and putting up fruiting bodies to make more spores. Looks like one in creep mode.
I know you like 'em, but your finger is really close to that spider.
Years ago I remember finding an incredibly fast caterpillar and wondering if it was carnivorous. I couldn't think of any other really good reason for such speed. I am wondering now if it might have been a Harvester. Problem is...so long ago, the memory may not be able to pull up the visual...

swamp4me said...

The spider was really quite calm -- no aggressive moves with her considerable chelicera or front legs. (But it was a little exciting earlier when she took a trip up my arm.) Besides, my finger was the only thing I had handy for size comparison :)

Do you remember if the speedy caterpillar you saw was on an alder or beech? Apparently the Harvester caterpillar is particularly fond of the aphids on those trees (hmmm, perhaps it's the beechwood aging - Budweiser aphids...)

swamp4me said...

Oh, and yes, that red stuff is most likely a slime mold. We have several different varieties around here -- some yellow, some orange, some almost white -- all icky. ;)

Jenn said...

I'm pretty sure I had a cousin to your huge spider up here in Michigan a few years back. It was about the same size and shape, but had brown/taupe markings that looked like a guitar on its back.

I was creeped out and moved her to the back of my yard (I found her near the house)

I'll be checking for your ID to see if mine can be ID'd then, too...

So many spiders, it's hard to find them on the web... heehee... yeah, no, I didn't mean the pun but there you go.

lené said...

I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled for some Green Mountain slime mold. I can't say that I've ever seen it, but maybe I was just blocking it out for obvious reasons. :)

Rurality said...

That's a lot of ick for one post, you know? :) Very nice orchid though.

Geez I didn't know black widows were so out in the open as to be on fence posts. Makes me want to take a little better look at what keeps building a web by our gate...

Anonymous said...

I have the same Red Mold/Fungis growing on the same pine stump year after year. Haven't found a name for it yet.