29 January 2007

Latrodectus geometricus....the Holy Grail

Saturday (27 Jan 07), Larry Allain and I braved the stormy conditions here in Acadiana to collect brown widows (L. geometricus) on Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. in Lafayette. The purpose of this excursion was to supply Jayme (Necaise) with specimens for a genetic anaylsis/scientific publication in a medical journal with three others. We first checked the brick columns in front of the Super Target, but did not find any webs. We were not to be disapponted however; for when we moved down in front of Stage, we hit the jackpot! In all, we collected 13 (12 females, 1 male) widows. I couldn't help but keep two females for myself naturally..... It is generally thought that the presence of these widows is due to importation on plants from either Florida or Texas; most likely the former. Genetic analyses of these specimens should yield the answer to this. I have yet to do any investigating at places such as Home Depot or Lowe's, which have plant nurseries, where the spiders could be brought in. I suspect however, that such research could produce the answer. Maybe I could wrangle Steven Barney out into the field next time....

Also of note were the presence of both Plexippus paykulli and Phidippus audax jumping spiders in "purse-like webs" located inside of the widows' webs! After talking this over with Zack last night, this seems typical in Latrodectus spiders. It is not yet fully understood what (if any) purpose(s) this serves. Impressively, we found one widow that had captured and apparently consumed a large female Rabidosa rabidosa wolf spider.

Included are a few pictures taken by Larry throughout the morning.


1) cellar spider, Crossopriza lyoni 2) female Phidippus audax

26 January 2007

re: widow updates

Nothing new on any geometricus, but I did get the collecting package in from Jayme yesterday. I plan on going to collect tomorrow. I've been working in Cameron Parish the last couple of days, and will be today also.


25 January 2007

Widow updates...


Any Brown Widow updates? I know Jayme was researching them too.

"Laissez Les scarabées Roulez"

24 January 2007

smokin' gun by Larry Allain


Dr. Bobby Keeland had to get rid of some old books that he and his wife no longer had room for. Bob, being a botanist, figured these publications would be well valued by someone who is into bugs and things. Thanks Bob! What he gave to me are: How To Know The Spiders (Kaston 1953), How To Know The Insects (Jaques 1947), How To Know The Protozoa (Jahn 1949), How To Know The Immature Insects (Chu 1949) & How To Know The Beetles (Jacues 1951). The drawings in these are remarkably accurate...as they should have been long before all this digital macro stuff! What I'll do is scan some images when I get a chance so that y'all can see 'em!


16 January 2007

Brown Widows Erupt in Lafayette!!!

As I have already communicated to Zack, while shopping for women's clothing (which is always an awesome time...), I discovered numerous active brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) webs in the crevices outside Target and other micsellaneous stores in that strip-mall complex over on the 4000 block of Ambassador Caffery Pkwy. in south Lafayette! Albeit, this was some months ago...I've just been extremely busy and haven't been posting/communicating with y'all as much as I'd love to. I've been doing a tremendous amount of field work (mostly bird/plant-related projects) in coastal Cameron Parish. While there, I have noted the exlosion of Southern widows there now. It seems now, more than ever I can recall, that L. mactans could be termed ubiquitous in the cheniers! I mean, under almost every available bit of cover, whether it's storm wrack or otherwise, there's usually a widow present. Zack and I (as well as Vicky Bayless) have discussed this, and find it intruiging. My personal thoughts are these:

1) perhaps a great percentage of the widows' natural predators (i.e. ground-wasps, etc.) were wiped out with the storm surge related to hurricane Rita.

2) (my wife actually suggested this) many an older structures already harboring widows were demolished and disseminated, and now these spiders and their kin (not a joke based on the book, Zack...) are more obviously distributed.

3) BOTH?

Comments, questions, answers?