Friday Fun!

What are you doing for fun this weekend? This morning, the students and I are going out on a collecting trip — we’re going to drive outside of our survey area and just go nuts, prowling around bushes and buildings and parks, looking for novel spider species we hadn’t seen before, and scooping up all the P. tep we encounter to fill up our colony. We’ve got ten healthy egg sacs maturing in the incubator and a swarm of spiderlings to care for, but I’m a little bit paranoid because Winter Is Coming and I know the current bounty of diversity is going to die off fast. I also want to avoid last winter’s problem of a) the male shortage, and b) excessive inbreeding.

Besides, spiders are neat-o, right?

A recommendation: the people who made iNaturalist, the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, have come out with a new app for your smartphone, Seek. It’s amazing. Point your phone camera at a tree, a leaf, an insect, anything, and it scans the live image and homes in on a species ID. It’s the most magical thing ever since my grad school days when I’d go for walks with Jim Kezer, an old-school herpetologist, who could give you the Latin binomial for any organism you showed him.

Try it, you’ll like it. It’s not quite as folksy and fun as Jim Kezer was, but it’s handy.

Anyway, we’re going to be out and about in the local small towns and parks, photographing and collecting spiders this morning. I hope your plans are as exciting.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Let me see if I have this correct. Strange,mainly young people lead by a bearded maniac, crawling around the ground, perhaps climbing trees and waving little vials in the air. Should impress everybody.

    Oh wait. University town, probably considered normal behaviour.

    I remember a couple of women, waist deep in the bay where no one swims , which looked a bit peculiar, remarking that they needed samples of something.

    Oh yes, of course. Probably a dissertation.

  2. Sean Boyd says

    Installed it this morning. Found a Pholcus phalangioides in my bathroom (well, according to Seek, anyway, but long-bodied cellar spider sounds just about right, given that it, well, had a long body and that I live in a cellar apartment.)

  3. Sean Boyd says

    And yes, my Pholcus friend is where I found them. One good thing about your new spider habit is that it has desensitized me a bit to having them around.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    Mandatory overtime at my crappy job Saturday. Moving my hoarder mother to another apartment on Sunday.

    I’m not going to be having much fun.

  5. hemidactylus says

    Thanks PZ, but if I get bit I’m blaming you. Wasn’t brave enough to get too close and personal and without a white sheet of paper as backdrop it kept scanning surrounding dicots. Took a pic with iphone cam then told Seek app to access that. Using three pics it said non specific Tetragnatha twice and Leucauge once. Isn’t Luke Cage a comic book character?

    Consensus is long jawed orb weaver.

  6. hemidactylus says

    Tried again but wound up disturbing the web too much and still got a badly lit blurry shot. The most recent shot says Leucauge. The clearest shot says Leucauge and the abdominal markings I can barely make out are consistent with this Leucauge argyrobapta

    There are orange/red markings for sure. I am not super confident in this call and I think I disrupted this spider’s day too much. But I am getting the bug bug. Wish I had this when I took several botany courses back in the day. I got pretty good at plants, but they usually don’t run away. Even did some dichotomous keying but nothing too involved.

    Do you get into keying spiders PZ?