I am and hungry and mid coffee crash which makes this an ideal time to update blog. Went out to the Waitakere yesterday to collect spiders and collect spiders we did! Lots of C. foliata (I think) and one other species which is basting in 70% ethanol as we sit here contemplating whether my highlighters are arranged in the correct order.
Have one female in my prototype cage and have found a couple problems:
– She can’t actually climb into the retreat I’ve made for her
– Spiders don’t like climbing wire mesh
Prototype 2 will have sand glued onto the inside of the retreat and fabric or mesh of some description woven in and out of the wire mesh. Here’s hoping that she takes to it. I think that my current arrangement of the retreat might also be a little counter-intuitive for her so that will be something I’ll change on the next model.
Have another trip down to Waitomo tomorrow. Primary aim is to get really just to get some observations although may also do some collecting on the final night. Not sure if I’ll bother pitfall trapping again since it was really nothing more than a forearm workout last time. If I see lots of males in female webs on the first night then it might be worthwhile.
I may also try to mark males with arthropod paints so that if males make multiple visits to the same female or females on the same tree, I’ll know. But apparently it’s also very possible that males won’t be wandering quite as much as we might have thought. During the trip to Waitakere yesterday we saw three webs in which both a male and a female were present. In the case of two of them the males were sharing the female’s small retreat i.e. they were in quite close quarters. There might be something interesting going on in terms of mate guarding so it will be interesting to see whether males hang around even after mating.
Hopefully will also see a few more pirate spiders (Family: Mimetidae). I collected one and have yet to identify it to species level (NB: I collected two but didn’t realise that they were araneophages until later). From the paper that I skimmed about them, they usually don’t take on prey larger than them so I’m not sure what they were doing with Cambridgea because I can’t think of (m)any New Zealand spiders that would be bigger…