Our adventure today: the Ecostation

Mary and I are getting off our butts and committing to some regional day trips with the intent of doing some spider hunting, but also to get some exercise, take some pictures, explore glorious locations, and have some fun. Today, our goal is the UMM Ecostation.

Because we’re bad at planning, we don’t expect sun-dappled lakes, prairie grasses standing tall, and glorious webs of diverse spiders everywhere — we’re leaving on a day with predicted thunderstorms all day long. Also, the Ecostation is a plot of land donated to the university about an hour NNE of us, with grand plans to construct classrooms and research labs there in the future, but none of that has happened yet. So we’re visiting an undeveloped tract of 140 acres of Wild Minnesota to wander around in the rain on a thundery day, looking for spiders who will be sensibly hiding out of the wet. It’s going to be more of a scouting trip than a great day of arachnology, but that’s OK. The way the weather has been lately, we might have to wait for August to see sunshine again, and even then it’s uncertain.

Both of us are products of the Pacific Northwest, so a little rain leaves us undaunted. The spiders might know better. We might also be surprised, which is usually good.


  1. Jazzlet says

    I hope your forecast is as unreliable as ours was yesterday so that instead of the forecast day of thunder storms we just had an evening of them. Good hunting!

  2. chigau (違う) says

    Why is that land going to waste like that?
    Shouldn’t there be a sportsball rink on it?

  3. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin says that looks like prime territory for the myerspider (A. poopyhead), thought by some to be related to Shelob due to its propensity to build fecking huge webs to catch, and eventually eat, beasties. Historical finds suggest a preference for Bison, whose sadly greatly reduced numbers are probably why myerspiders are now quite rare. These days, myerspiders just feed on about any shaggy beastie, which is, she says, also the reason they are known as myerspiders.

    Apparently, she explains, there once was a Captain “Orc” Meyer, who after accidentally “discovering” the by-then-legendary creature and managing to escape with only the loss of his leg, eye, clothing, and sanity, swore to prove its existence to the skeptics, who insisted he’d fallen, naked & drunk, off the roof balcony into the frozen water-trough. (The native First Nations peoples knew all about the myerspider, so the Captain only found something long known to the original locals.)

    It was during this years-long search for another myerspider he acquired his “Orc” moniker, through since this was long before Tolkien, just why or how is unclear. However, people have pointed out the European invaders in the area, and the Captain himself, are of Nordic background, where there are many legends of Trolls.

    Whether or not the Captain actually ever found another myerspider is unknown. He simply vanished one day whilst fishing for potatoes. His campsite and fishing equipment was found, covered in a great cocoon of still-sticky silk, but no other traces were ever found. The cocoon and its contents were placed in a longboat and burnt. Searchers did, however, find several myerspiders, and some (searchers as well as myerspiders) survived to tell the tale. Most of what we know is from those surviving searchers’s tales, such as the myerspider’s taste for shaggy beasties (other searchers, and parts of most of the surviving searchers).

  4. says

    Why is that land going to waste like that?

    It’s not going to waste. It’s The EcoStation. You know, The Place Where We Do Ecology….

    … as opposed to all of the Other Places, where we can build strip malls, housing developments, and factories however we like.