Snakes & Insects

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"All good things are wild and free."

Henry David Thoreau
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Banana Slug

Purisima Creek Redwood Open Space Preserve, San Mateo Coast, California 2013
The banana slug is so named because it resembles- what else?- a ripe banana. It is one of the largest terrestrial mollusks, a group that also includes snails; it may grow to 7 inches (20 cm) long or greater. Some banana slugs are bright yellow like their namesake, others are greenish or brown; some have dark spots and others few or no spots. Banana slugs may be found in large concentrations, five slugs per square meter are not uncommon. Banana slugs travel on a muscular foot over a thick layer of slime. Like all other mollusks they possess an anatomical feature called a “mantle”, a muscular cavity that encloses a space containing the respiratory chamber and other organs. In banana slugs, the mantle contains a pneumostome, or breathing hole, on the right side. Banana slugs, like most other slugs, are hermaphrodites, meaning they contain both sexes within the individual, however, they rarely “self-fertilize”. Fertilized eggs are laid under logs or in leaves.

In addition to its role as a detritivore, the banana slug is are also a frugivore, or fruit-eater, and may play a role in seed dispersal of plants it consumes directly including raspberries and blackberries or, indirectly, through consumption of animal feces containing seeds. Raccoons, garter snakes, waterfowl, and salamanders are known to prey on banana slugs; juveniles are sometimes eaten by shrews or moles.
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Banded Garden Spider

Half Moon Bay, California 2015
Agriope trifasciata is the most common garden spider in the Western United States, according to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Entomology department, though they live all over the country. “Probably their most defining physical characteristic is their body coloration,” said Sewlal. “Their oval abdomen is mostly white with bands of yellow and black, hence their common name.” These spiders have abdomens that are pointed near the rear and covered in small stripes. The female is significantly larger than the male.

Sewlal mentioned that arachnologists have found that banded garden spiders almost always “orient their webs along an east-to-west axis but place themselves in the webs with their abdomens facing south.” This position helps them absorb as much of the sun’s heat as possible. “Temperature is one of the major factors [for] spiders, especially for them to be active late in the year,” said Sewlal.

Like the other garden spiders, banded garden spiders also build stabilimenta. It looks similar to the silver garden spider’s, but is less prominent in the web, according to Sewlal.
blackwidow-ynp08

Black Widow

Hetch Hetchy Valley, Yosemite National Park 2008
blackwidow-range
Discovered as we rested just after dashing thru Wapama Falls for a cooling soak

Notorious for its neurotixin venom, it is a large widow spider found throughout the world and commonly associated with urban habitats or agricultural areas. Although the name 'black widow spider' is most commonly used to refer to the three North American species best known for their dark coloration, black hair and red hourglass pattern, occasionally it is applied to several other members of the Larodectus (widow spider) genus in which there are 31 recognized species including the Australian redback, brown widow spider (sometimes called the grey widow), and the red widow. In South Africa, widow spiders are also known as the button spider.

This species is know as the Western Black Widow (L. Hesperus)
  • Black widows are notorious spiders identified by the colored, hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. Several species answer to the name, and they are found in temperate regions around the world.
  • This spider's bite is much feared because its venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake's. In humans, bites produce muscle aches, nausea, and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult; however, contrary to popular belief, most people who are bitten suffer no serious damage—let alone death. But bites can be fatal—usually to small children, the elderly, or the infirm. Fortunately, fatalities are fairly rare; the spiders are nonaggressive and bite only in self-defense, such as when someone accidentally sits on them.
  • The animals most at risk from the black widow's bite are insects—and male black widow spiders. Females sometimes kill and eat their counterparts after mating in a macabre behavior that gave the insect its name. Black widows are solitary year-round except during this violent mating ritual.
  • These spiders spin large webs in which females suspend a cocoon with hundreds of eggs. Spiderlings disperse soon after they leave their eggs, but the web remains. Black widow spiders also use their webs to ensnare their prey, which consists of flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars. Black widows are comb-footed spiders, which means they have bristles on their hind legs that they use to cover their prey with silk once it has been trapped.
  • To feed, black widows puncture their insect prey with their fangs and administer digestive enzymes to the corpses. By using these enzymes, and their gnashing fangs, the spiders liquefy their prey's bodies and suck up the resulting fluid.
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/black-widow-spider/
damselfly-bluet-anc09

Bluet Damselfly

Vogel Lake, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge 2009
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The Damselfly (Suborder Zygoptera) is an insect in the order Odonata. Damselflies are similar to dragonflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most damselflies are held along, and parallel to, the body when at rest. Furthermore, the hindwing of the damselfly is essentially similar to the forewing, while the hindwing of the dragonfly broadens near the base, caudal to the connecting point at the body. Damselflies are also usually smaller, weaker fliers than dragonflies, and their eyes are separated

Etymology
  • Zygoptera comes from the Greek zygo meaning joined and ptera meaning wings.
Biology
  • Damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with an aquatic nymph stage
  • The female lays eggs in water, sometimes in underwater vegetation, or high in trees in bromeliadsand other water-filled cavities
  • Nymphs are carnivorous, feeding on daphnia,mosquito larvae, and various other small aquatic organisms
  • The gillsof damselfly nymphs are large and external, resembling three fins at the end of the abdomen
  • After moulting several times, the winged adult emerges and eats flies,mosquitoes, and other small insects
  • Some of the larger tropicalspecies are known to feed on spiders, hovering near the web and plucking the spider from its nest.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damselfly
checkerspot-edith-emw14-7w

Edith's Checkerspot Butterfly

Wheeler Peak, Emigrant Wilderness 2014
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Euphydryas Edith (Boisduval, 1852)

Family: Nymphalidae

Subfamily: Nymphalinae

Identification: Variable. Front wing rounded at tip. Upperside is black with red and pale yellow or white bands. Submarginal band of small yellow or white spots; wide postmedian band is red. Underside of hindwing with alternating bands of yellow-orange and cream.

Wing Span: 1 1/4 - 2 inches (3.2 - 5.1 cm).

Life History: Males perch or patrol all day to find females. Eggs are laid in groups on underside of leaves or on flowers of the host plant. Caterpillars eat leaves and flowers; sometimes using different host plants before and after hibernation. Young caterpillars live in loose silk webs; third- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate.

Flight: One brood; from March-May at low elevations, June-August at high elevations and in the north.

Caterpillar Hosts: Various species of paintbrush (Castilleja), beardtongues (Penstemon), lousewort (Pedicularis), owl's clover (Orthocarpus), Chinese houses (Collinsia), and plantain (Plantago).

Adult Food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: From sea level to treeline through diverse habitats including coastal chaparral, meadows, fields, foothills, open woods, alpine fellfields.

Range: Southern British Columbia and Alberta south to Baja California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Euphydryas-Edith
gartersnake-caredsided-hmb00

California Red-Sided Garter Snake

Terrace Ave, Half Moon Bay, Calif 2000
garter-caredsided-range
Garter snake is the common name given to harmless, small- to medium-sized snakes belonging to the genus Thamnophis. Endemic to North America, they can be found from the Sub Arctic plains of Canada to Central America. The garter snake is the state reptile of Massachusetts.[2]

With no real consensus on the classification of species of Thamnophis, disagreement among taxonomists and sources, such as field guides, over whether two types of snakes are separate species or subspecies of the same species is common.[citation needed] Garter snakes are closely related to the genus Nerodia (Water Snakes), with some species having been moved back and forth between genera.[citation needed]

Garter snakes are present throughout most of North America. They have a wide distribution due to their varied diets and adaptability to different habitats, with varying proximity to water; however, in the western part of North America, these snakes are more aquatic than in the eastern portion. Garter snakes populate a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, fields, grasslands, and lawns. They almost eclusively inhabit areas with some form of water, often an adjacent wetland, stream, or pond. This reflects the amphibians being a large part of their diet.

Garter snakes, like all snakes, are carnivorous. Their diets consist of almost any creature they are capable of overpowering: slugs, earthworms, leeches, lizards, amphibians, ants, crickets, frog eggs, toads, minnows, and rodents. When living near water, they will eat other aquatic animals. The ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus) in particular favors frogs (including tadpoles), readily eating them despite their strong chemical defenses. Food is swallowed whole. Garter snakes often adapt to eating whatever they can find, and whenever, because food can be scarce or abundant. Although they feed mostly upon live animals, they will sometimes eat eggs.

Garter snakes were long thought to be nonvenomous, but recent discoveries have revealed they do, in fact, produce a mild neurotoxic venom.[5] Garter snakes cannot kill humans with the small amounts of comparatively mild venom they produce, and they also lack an effective means of delivering it. They do have enlarged teeth in the back of their mouths, but their gums are significantly larger.[6][7] The Duvernoy's gland of garters are posterior (to the rear) of the snake's eyes.[8] The mild venom is spread into wounds through a chewing action. But there is a type of garter snake called Balthazar and it produces the neurotoxin called anuj and it will almost kill any big giant animals like small mammals and froggies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garter_snake
mtngartersnake-emw14

Mountain Garter Snake

Huckleberry Lake, Emigrant Wilderness 2014
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Size
18 - 43 inches in length (46 - 109 cm).

Appearance
A medium-sized slender snake with a head barely wider than the neck and keeled dorsal scales.

Color and Pattern
  • Ground color is a dark olive-brown or black with no red markings
  • There are 3 well-defined light stripes on the back and sides:
  • The dorsal stripe is yellow, orange, or white.
  • The lateral stripes may be paler. Underside is pale with few markings, and is sometimes darker in the center.
Life History and Behavior
Active in daylight. Chiefly terrestrial - not as dependant on water as other gartersnake species, but more likely to be found near water.

Defense
If frightened when picked up, this snake will often strike repeatedly and release cloacal contents. When frightened, this species will sometimes seek refuge in vegetation or ground cover, but it will also crawl quickly into water and swim away from trouble.

Diet and Feeding
Terrestrial gartersnakes eat a wide range of prey (among the widest of any snake species), including amphibians and their larvae, fish, birds, mice, lizards, snakes, worms, leeches, slugs, and snails. At high elevations in the Sierra Nevada, Mountain Gartersnakes rely almost exclusively on amphibians for food, mostly Sierran Treefrogs.

Breeding
Breeds primarily in spring, with young born live July - Sepember.

Elevational Range
The species Thamnophis elegans - Western Terrestrial Gartersnake, occurs from sea level to 13,100 ft. (3,990 m) in elevation in Colorado. (Stebbins, 2003)

Habitat
Inhabits streamsides, springs, mountain lakes, in grassland, meadows, brush, woodland, and coniferous forest.

http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/t.e.elegans.html
gartersnake-santacruz-bay06

Santa Cruz Garter Snake

San Mateo Skyline, 2006
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Size
18 - 40 inches long (46 - 102 cm). Most snakes encountered are generally 18 - 28 inches long (46 - 71 cm).
Neonates are 7 - 10 inches ( 18 - 25 cm).

Appearance
A medium-sized slender snake with a head barely wider than the neck and keeled dorsal scales.

Some average scale counts: Average of 8 upper labial scales, 6 and 7 not enlarged. 11 lower labial scales. Rear pair of chin shields is longer than the front. The internasals are longer than they are wide and pointed in front. Average of 19 or 21 scales at mid-body.

Color and Pattern
  • Ground color is gray, brown or black.
  • There is a wide yellowish to orange-yellow dorsal stripe, but with the side stripes absent or obscured.
  • There may be small alternating dark spots on the sides.
  • The throat is white or yellow, sometimes bright yellow.
  • The underside is bluish or greenish sometimes with pink or yellow marks.
Activity
  • A highly-aquatic snake, able to remain underwater, but also found away from water.
  • Active during the day, and after dark during very hot weather.
  • Can be active most of the year when conditions allow, but primarily found spring through fall.
  • Defense
  • When threatened, this snake will often escape into water, hiding on the bottom. If it is frightened when picked up, it will often strike repeatedly and release feces from the cloaca and expel musk from anal glands.
Diet and Feeding
Probably eats mainly amphibians and their larvae, including frogs, tadpoles, and aquatic salamander larvae (newts and giant salamanders, Taricha and Dicamptodon ), but small fish are also eaten. Captives have also taken small rodents. Leeches may also be consumed - I saw a recently-captured T. a. zaxanthus regurgitate two leeches.

Preston and Johnston, 2012, in their study of the diet of T. atratus in the Bay Area, found that native amphibians are a very important part of their diet, with Sierran Treefrogs being the most important amphibian prey, followed by California Toads, California Newts, and California Red-legged Frogs.

Adults have been found to forage actively, neonates are sit-and-wait foragers, and juveniles practice both forms of foraging.

Breeding
  • Courtship has been observed during March and April.
  • Young are born live late summer to early fall.
Habitat
Creeks, streams, small lakes and ponds, in woodland, brush and forest and grassy ecotones. Seems to prefer shallow rocky creeks and streams. When found in muddy ponds there are usually rocky outcrops nearby.
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Short Wing Green Grasshopper

Black Mesa, Oklahoma, Sep 2008
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Grasshoppers are insects of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish them from bush crickets or katydids, they are sometimes referred to as short-horned grasshoppers. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locusts.

Grasshoppers have antennae that are almost always shorter than the body (sometimes filamentous), and short ovipositors. Those species that make easily heard noises usually do so by rubbing the hind femurs against the forewings or abdomen (stridulation), or by snapping the wings in flight. Tympana, if present, are on the sides of the first abdominal segment. The hind femora are typically long and strong, fitted for leaping. Generally they are winged, but hind wings are membranous while front wings (tegmina) are coriaceous and not fit for flight. Females are normally larger than males, with short ovipositors. Males have a single unpaired plate at the end of the abdomen. Females have two pairs of valves ( triangles) at the end of the abdomen used to dig in sand when egg laying.

They are easily confused with the other sub-order of Orthoptera, Ensifera, but are different in many aspects, such as the number of segments in their antennae and structure of the ovipositor, as well as the location of the tympana and modes of sound production. Ensiferans have antennae with at least 20-24 segments, and caeliferans have fewer. In evolutionary terms, the split between the Caelifera and the Ensifera is no more recent than the Permo-Triassic boundary (Zeuner 1939).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grasshopper
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kansasgophersnake-inroad-pks08

Kansas Gopher Snake

Kansas County Road Wa-N3, Sep 2008
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Size: Length in Kansas up to 88 3/4 inches.

Description
Harmless. Largest snake in Kansas; keeled scales; pattern of 33–73 large brown or black blotches on brownish yellow body. Tail with alternating yellow and black bands. Belly yellowish with variable black mottling. Young same as adults.

Habits
Lives in open grasslands as well as open woodland and woodland edge; common in cultivated fields where there is an abundance of rodents. Active from April to November; generally diurnal, basking in the sun or foraging for food, but becomes nocturnal during hot summer months. Number of eggs per clutch ranges from 3-22. Constrictor. Most economically beneficial snake in Kansas, consuming large quantities of rodents and saving farmers from much grain loss; also eats pocket gophers, rabbits, ground squirrels, birds and bird eggs. Emits a loud “hiss” when disturbed or frightened.

http://www.gpnc.org/gophersnake.htm
pacificgophersnake-hmb15-7w

Pacific Gopher Snake

Terrace Ave, Half Moon Bay, Calif 2015
Stacks Image 6675
Size
Adults of this species can be 2.5 - 7 feet long (76 - 213 cm) but most of this subspecies are from 4.5 - 5 ft. (137 - 152 cm.) Hatchlings are fairly long, and may exceed 20 inches in length (51 cm.)

Appearance
A large snake with heavily keeled scales, a narrow head that is slightly wider than the neck, and a protruding rostral scale on the tip of the snout that is bluntly rounded. A striped morph is also found, often in Solano and Yolo Counties around the Davis Area.

Color and Pattern
Ground color is straw or tan, with large square dark chocolate blotches or saddles along the back and smaller gray spots on the sides. The back of the neck is dark brown. The underside is cream to yellowish with dark spots. Often there is a reddish color on the top, especially near the tail.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Active in the daytime, and at night in hot weather. One of the most commonly seen snakes on roads and trails, especially in the spring when males are actively seeking a mate, and in the fall when hatchlings emerge. A good burrower, climber, and swimmer.

Defense
When threatened, a gopher snake will elevate and inflate its body, flatten its head into a triangular shape, hiss loudly, and quickly shake its tail back and forth to make a buzzing sound which may be a mimic of a rattlesnake rattler it could be a similar behavior that helps to warn off an animal that could be a threat to the gopher snake. Gopher snakes have a specially-developed epiglottis which increases the sound of their hiss when air is forced through the glottis.

Diet and Feeding
Small mammals, especially pocket gophers, birds and their eggs, and occasionally lizards and insects. A powerful constrictor; kills prey by suffocating them in body coils or by pressing the animal against the walls of their underground burrows.

Breeding
Mating occurs in spring after emergence from winter hibernation, with eggs laid June - August, hatching in 2 to 2.5 months. Mating and egg laying will occur later in more northern climates or at higher elevations.

http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/p.c.catenifer.html
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Scarlet Skimmer (Crimson Darter)

Common Grounds, Princeville, Hawaii USA 2012
This eye-popping, brilliant red belongs to the Scarlet Skimmer, a.k.a. Crimson Darter, Crocothemis servilia. Found in East and South East Asia, it has also has taken up residence in Florida, Cuba, and Hawaii. They frequent habitats with still waters and grassy fields, and are commonly seen around disturbed areas such as ditches and golf ponds. Reaching lengths up to one and a half inches or more, they are one of the larger red dragonflies. While many dragonflies are known for their frenetic flight, these guys are perchers; sitting tall on marsh vegetation, ready to ambush their prey or chase off any intruders to their territory. Their striking color makes them easy to spot; even the eyes of the male are red, and a dark line running along the abdomen helps distinguish this from other species. The females and younger males are yellowish in color. Males undergo "nupital coloration," a change in their body color which signals sexual maturity. Recently, scientists discovered that the color change is redox dependent. Epidermal pigments in young males and even females turned from yellow to bright red when injected with a reductive agent. So I guess it's fair to say that those bright red males.... have a certain chemistry.

http://hawaiinaturejournal.weebly.com/hawaii-plants-and-animals-in-the-backyard-and-beyond/category/arthropods/3
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Sierra Fence Lizard

Emigrant Wilderness, Lertoria Lake 2001
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Size
2.25 - 3.5 inches long from snout to vent (5.7 - 8.9 cm). (Stebbins 2003)
The largest subspecies of Western Fence Lizard.

Appearance
A fairly small lizard with large overlapping keeled scales with spines on them on the back and sides.
Scales on the backs of the thighs are mostly keeled.

Color and Pattern
Color is brown, gray, or black with blotches.
Sometimes light markings on the sides of the backs form stripes or irregular lines, and sometimes dark blotching may form irregular bands.
The rear of the limbs is yellow or orange.
The sides of the belly are blue.

Male / Female Differences
Males usually have a nearly entirely blue belly and throat, enlarged postanals, enlarged femoral pores, and a swollen tail base.
Some scales on a male's back become blue or greenish when he is in the light phase.

Females have faint or absent blue markings on the belly, no blue or green color on the upper surfaces, and dark bars or crescents on the back.
Young

Juveniles have little or no blue on the throat and faint blue belly markings or none at all.

Defense
The tail detaches easily to distract a potential predator allowing the lizard to escape.

Diet and Feeding
Eats small, mostly terrestrial, invertebrates such as crickets, spiders, ticks, and scorpions, and occasionally eats small lizards including its own species.

Breeding

Courtship and copulation occur in late spring or early summer, after snows melt.
Egg laying occurs 2 - 4 weeks after copulation.
Females dig small pits in loose damp soil where they lay 1 - 3 clutches of 3 - 17 eggs usually May to July.
Eggs hatch in about 60 days, usually from July to September.

Habitat
Open, sunny, rocky areas in high-elevation forests, especially areas with large rock outcrops or rock slides.

http://www.californiaherps.com/lizards/pages/s.o.taylori.html
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Sierran Tree Frog

Half Moon Bay, California 2016
sierrantreefrog-range
Size
Adults are .75 - 2 inches long from snout to vent (1.9 - 5.1 cm). (Stebbins, 2003)

Appearance
A small frog with a large head, large eyes, a slim waist, round pads on the toe tips, limited webbing between the toes, and a wide dark stripe through the middle of each eye that extends from the nostrils to the shoulders. Legs are long and slender. Skin is smooth and moist. Often there is a Y-shaped marking between the eyes.

Color and Pattern
Dorsal body coloring is variable: green, tan, brown, gray, reddish, cream, but it is most often green or brown. The body color and the dark eye stripe do not change, but the body color can quickly change from dark to light, and dark markings on the back and legs can vary in intensity or disappear in response to environmental conditions. The underside is creamy with yellow underneath the back legs.

Male/Female Differences
The male's throat is darkened and wrinkled.

Young
Similar to adults.

Larvae (Tadpoles)
Tadpoles are up to 1 7/8 inches long ( 4.7 cm) blackish to dark brown and light below with a broze sheen. The intestines are not visible. Viewed from above, the eyes extend to the outline of the head.

Activity
Active both day and night, becoming mostly nocturnal during dry periods.

During wet weather, they move around in low vegetation. In locations at low elevations where temperatures are more moderate, frogs may be active all year. At colder or hotter locations, frogs avoid temperature extremes by hibernating in moist shelters such as dense vegetation, debris piles, crevices, mammal burrows, and even human buildings.

The name "treefrog" is not entirely accurate. This frog is chiefly a ground-dweller, living among shrubs and grass typically near water, but occasionally it can also be found climbing high in vegetation. Its large toe pads allow it to climb easily, and cling to branches, twigs, and grass.

Green body color absorbs more solar radiation which can be more beneficial in cold and aquatic habitats.

Brown body color absorbs less solar radiation, which may be more beneficial in drier, hotter, more terrestrial habitats.

http://www.californiaherps.com/frogs/pages/p.sierra.html#description
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Tarantula

Black Mesa, Oklahoma
tarantula-range
Discovered as we on our way to Black Mesa in the early cold morning

Tarantulas are the biggest of spiders. They have eight legs, are often hairy, and have two big fangs. Some are dull brown, while others can be brightly colored. The sizes range too as small as a fingernail, too as big as a dinner plate. Woah, that’s a big spider. Tarantulas can live in rainforests and desserts.. Their prey is insects, and even rodents and small birds. They hunt by stalking, slowly creeping up. Then they quickly leap onto their prey and stick their hollow, furry fangs into the prey. Venom is pumped in and liquefies the prey’s insides. Then the spider eats it like bug soup. Mm! Surprisingly, tarantulas spend a lot of their time hiding when they’re not hunting. Lots of animals will try to eat them although some do not succeed, for the tarantula has a few good defenses. The hairs on the back less and abdomen can break off with the slightest touch; borrowing into an enemy and making them itch terribly. They are also pretty fast runners, with eight legs! And if all else fails, they can bite, but their venom is used mainly for eating prey. For some reason tarantula’s reputation isn’t that good. Maybe because they are big. Maybe because they are hairy. Maybe because they are poisonous. Well, yes, they are big, and hairy. They do have poison, but it can’t kill a person unless you’re allergic to it. For most people, tarantula bites are no worse than a bee sting. People are sometimes worried they are in the bananas in grocery stores. That is extremely rare, so don’t worry! The tarantula is a wonderful animal. Take a little closer look, and you’ll see something amazing.

http://courses.ttu.edu/thomas/classPet/1999/Tarantula/facts.htm

Facts about the Tarantula
  • Tarantulas will go bald on their thorax when they get old!
  • Tarantulas have tiny hairs on the back of their abdomen and back legs that will stick to an enemy if disturbed and ITCH.
  • Tarantulas have re-tractable claws, just like cats!
  • Some tarantulas can get as big as dinner plates!
  • Tarantulas’ bite is actually not that dangerous; no more worse than a bee sting (unless you’re allergic, of course).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarantula
twogemmedsawfly-emw14-7w

Two-gemmed Sawfly

Huckleberry Lake, Emigrant Wilderness 2014
Tenthredo bigemina (Tenthredinidae)

Sawflies get their name from the saw-like nature of their ovipositor. Sawfly larvae usually feed on the outside of plants, many prefer grasses, but some do serious damage in the timber industry as woodborers and leaf miners.

Sawflies are herbivores, feeding on plants that have a high concentration of chemical defences. These insects are either resistant to the chemical substances, or they avoid areas of the plant that have high concentrations of chemicals.[3] The larvae primarily feed in groups; they are folivores, consuming plants and fruits on native trees and shrubs, though some are parasitic. However, this is not always the case; Monterey pine sawfly (Itycorsia) larvae are solitary web-spinners that feed on Monterey pine trees inside a silken web. The adults feed on pollen and nectar.

http://cirrusimage.com/wp/bees-wasps-and-ants/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawfly
westernyellowbelliedracer-hmb15-7w

Western Yellow Bellied Racer

Terrace Ave, Half Moon Bay, Calif 2015
westernyellowbelliedracer-rangemap
Size
Adults are 20-75 inches long (51-190 cm), typically under 3 feet long. Hatchlings are 8 - 11 inches long.

Appearance
A slender snake with large eyes, a broad head and a slender neck, smooth scales, and a long thin tail.

Color and Pattern
Plain brown, blue-grey, or olive-green to green above and unmarked off-white or yellowish below.

Young
Young have dark blotches on the sides and saddled markings on the back. At one time juveniles were thought to be a different species of snake than the adults due to the dramatic difference in appearance.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Active in daylight. Mainly terrestrial, but also a good climber. Can be found at denning sites along with other species of snakes. Moves very quickly. Despite the species name, it is not a constrictor. Often bites agressively.

Diet and Feeding
Eats lizards, small mammals, birds, eggs, snakes, small turtles and frogs, and large insects. Hunts crawling with head held high off the ground, sometimes moving it from side to side. Prey is killed by being quickly overcome and captured, crushed with the jaws or trapped under the body, and swallowed alive.

Breeding
Lays eggs in early summer.

http://www.californiaherps.com/snakes/pages/c.c.mormon.html#description
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