Sunday, May 31, 2009

CLOSE UP shots of the week

I waited for the right moment with my heavy but ergonomic Canon EOS 10D DSLR and lighting setup to catch this shot. I was really elated when I got it because moments like this can be hard to capture. It is pictures like this I've been dreaming of catching since I was a kid and saw them in books. Just last night I got lucky and was in the right place at the right time with my camera as this beetle decided to fly. They spread there wings and hesitate just a moment before liftoff which gave me just enough time to keep my cool and take a focused shot.

I am not sure what kind of beetle this is yet, I think it's some kind of june bug, but I could be wrong. I will be looking it up sometime soon here.

And incredibly, it spread it's wings yet again for me when I had a clear shot. This beetle was captured with a Canon EOS 10D, extension tube, and a home built macro flash system.

CLOSE UP --The Grass Spider

This is one of my favorate species of spiders. She is related to the crab spiders. Useing a small plastic petree dish, I got some serious close ups on this Tibellus oblongus. They are hard to find since they blend in so well with grass and folage. That flying beetle shot was nice, but spiders still have the most of my interest. This one made it to my outside light last night.

Here you can see the eyes which are actually quite small for a hunting spider. Her main senses can be seen in those hairs on her limbs. They are highly sensitive to vibration.

On the underside we can see her clearning one of her limbs, and clearly we can also see her female reproductive organ, the small black mark on the abdomen, the epigynum.Another shot of her cleaning her limb. Spiders often do this and keep themselves quite clean.

The full underside as best as I could with the setup I had here. It took me couple of hours of shooting to get these shots.

Here she is about 0.5mm above the ruler here but this gives you some idea of her size, she could grow to have a body 10mm long.

Hanging out here, as you can see she's in the plastic dish and just about 0.5mm above the surface here. To take these shots in doors, I used a LED flashlight to see through the SLR viewfinder well.
I tried my best to get through any glare and get the best shots I could of this spider as she was in the dish. She's nearly fully grown but they get a bit larger.

Then I let her go right where I caught her, this is the typical way they sit in wait. They are a sly and very quick species.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sun loving daddy longlegs and the Silverfish

This species of daddy long legs is very common in California but I only recently found it here in Oregon. To my surprise on a walk with my wife near a power transformer on the ground I found these three spiders. One of which put on a show for me giving me quite a few angles.

I call her the "Sun loving daddy longlegs" because unlike to my knowledge all other species of Pholcidae, it does not have any problem living out in the open and even in bright sunlight.

Most daddy longlegs spider species like others featured in my website crave caves, cellars, and dark basements. They don't like building webs out in the open. You may find one under a large rock, but it usually won't be in shrubs or out in the open to light.

It's about the same size and body type and shape as your average daddy longlegs. Pholcus phalangioides seems to be a close relative. I've done several very close up shots of those in my basement and articles on them in this website. This species is clearly Pholcus sp. But what?? If anybody knows let me know.

Another difference is body color, the sun-loving species has a rich pattern on it's body and it's underside. Also, females carry there eggs in exactly the same way as other daddy longlegs.

They are sub-communal, meaning that they live in large webs semi-connected and do not eat each other. All ages can be found and sometimes like these two juveniles. I observed that these also practice the classic blur-body motion when frightened. They are also very sensitive and quick even in the brightest of sunlight on a hot day to jump out onto there webs when they detect a person talking. They definitely build a bit more of a little home for themselves then the traditional daddy longlegs but the webs are similar. All daddy longlegs are harmless and it is a total myth that they are the most poisonous spider in the world. Urban myths do allot of damage to spiders. Actually I've been bit by rather large daddy longlegs and the pain scale was about 1/10th of a bee sting or less. Like a pinch.

I tired hard to get a eyes on shot, showing the differences in it's eyes and carapace (prosoma) as well as the deep fovea. The ridge in the thorax. I plan to go back to the site where I found these spiders here and take some better more close up pictures. My wife had to wait for me to take these shots in the hot sun so I did not want to stay too long.

The natural habitat of the sun-loving daddy longlegs. A hot day she sits in the sun when at all alerted. They can be found in shrubs and in even brighter situations.

Then we made are way into a local park called Hyde park. There I found this web possibly of a daddylonglegs as shown above in a bunch of amber. This is interesting since insects and spiders get preserved in amber with incredible detail for millions of years.

Amber, of course, is fossilized tree sap. Such as these drops coming out of a pine tree of some kind.

Some of the drops where very transparent and cool.

This is my favorate future amber shot.

The Silverfish:

Speaking of ancient insects and spiders this is the silverfish. It's something like 300 million years old and it has not changed much since.

They can be found scurrying across your bathroom floor or deep in caves. What is most interesting about them is how primitive an insect they are and that they have been unchanged for so long. As an order, they are one of very few surviving species of insects that have never possessed wings. Most all insects at least at one point developed wings in there evolutionary past.

And you can clearly see the lobes that turned into wings over millions of years not ever having developed in this tiny creature. It's virtually blind but very agile, fast, and will keep things clean for you. I consider it to be a beneficial insect and let this one go where I found it in my house.

The underside, showing antania both in front and back of the insect.
This shot I got a few days ago on another walk. This is a crane fly, often called a "daddy longlegs" as well. It obviously is not a spider and is a kind of fly. Harvestmen too get mixed up for daddy longlegs.
On the same phototime, I shot this ladybug in direct sunlight as it was walking on a leaf.


I featured this spider last year in late summer 2008. I have looked all over and this species just does not live in this area, I have only found it down by the docks right on the Columbia river and other areas miles away from my house. I captured this spider in 2008 out on a barge. She had either hatched there or ballooned there from a great distance. This species of Araneidae or Metidae (I'm not sure yet) lives in damp and dark areas where she has a very good hideout and a small web. Here is the kicker-- I took this picture just a few days ago!

I let this spider go in 2008 after featuring her on a website article (go back a few months--pages to find it) on my back porch. I figured she could live the reminder of her almost certainly just 1 year lifespan there. As you saw in my pictures, we had a really hard winter, over 4 feet of snow for weeks and sub -0- temperatures here in The Dalles. It got so cold I don't know how but somehow she managed to survive and hibernate through the winter. I found her just about 15 feet from where I had released her last year. Not only did she survive the winter outside but she has lived obviously longer then the normal lifespan of most orb weavers which is about 1 year or season. I was more then amazed and check her picture with the ones I took of her when I caught her.. it's her as best as I can tell. The chances of it being another spider is extremely low, as this species just does not live in this area at all and her size and features all match up perfectly to my high-res pics I took last year. There is no doubt, she lived through the winter and she was captured again when I saw her ram shacked web damaged by the wind and took an opportunity to put her into an enclosure for photography and observation.

She has since built a full orb web in it and captures insects I feed her inside this little spider cage. It is incredible to me that she not only survived this very harsh winter and lived through the spring, but that I would find her again after letting her go nearly a half year ago. I am really going to find out what species she is and by keeping her hope to see just how long she will live. Spiders do fine in captivity if they have the means and the food they need. In additon to safe insects, they also need watter mist that is free from contamination. Remember when ever catching spiders, just about everything contains insecticides. An old used can of coffee can be washed out 5 times clean and still kill a spider in less then an hour.

I have been trying to figure out how to get my pictures out there more. I appreciate any comments you add or send me. My e-mail address can be found in the intro-text on the right hand side of the top of this website. I am looking for someone who can give me some tips about how I might get my pictures out there more. I am not very experienced on the internet and admittedly after several computer crashes internet-phobic. I'm trying to break that down and get more involved in showing and viewing pictures as well as the art of photography. I want to be noted someday as an amateur Arachnologist (someone who studies spiders and there kin) and somehow make a mark on the spider world with my pictures. If you have any tips on who to talk to for advice or what clubs to join or contests to enter please let me know. Thanks all and enjoy my website as I continue to add pictures and come up with new ideas. Spiders are definitely my favorite and if I could find enough of them I'd have allot more shots of them here.
Being physically challenged since 2005 and not having a car makes it difficult to find new species but I hope to travel again more and in some way contribute as well as learn from the study of spiders and photography in general.