This morning when I was talking on the phone with my sister outside, I noticed a spider wrapping up a fly it had caught in its web. I recognized it immediately as a cellar spider, Family Pholcidae, because of its slender body, long legs and the tangled shape of its web. It also has dark markings on the underside of its body.
The larger cellar spiders common around homes in the Southwest have been introduced from Europe. This one looks like the marbled cellar spider, Holocnemus pluchei, because of the marbled white and pinkish-red pattern on its abdomen.
We have a community of cellar spiders that live on the outside of one of the windows where we watch our bird feeder. When the feeder is quiet, we watch the spiders instead.
This week has been very busy, but I do have a minute to post this cute beetle.
Beetles like this one belong to the family Scarabaeidae, which contain the scarab beetles, the dung beetles, and the May or June beetles. Some scarabs are brightly colored like shiny jewels. Others like the dung beetles, are drab or dark brown. Most are easy to recognize with their boxy, square shape. This one is probably picking up a snack of pollen and/or nectar from this flower.
Who doesn’t love ladybugs? They are beautiful, and helpful. Now you and your children have an opportunity to help out a scientist with a project on ladybugs.
Dr. John Losey, a professor of entomology at Cornell University, wants you and your children to find and photograph ladybugs. Scientists have noticed that some native species of lady beetles are disappearing, while introduced ladybugs are on the rise. Dr. Losey wants children to help document ladybug populations around the country by taking photographs and sending them to him, with information about when and where they were found.
This is a fun project for learning about ladybugs, which are actually a type of beetle. However, before you rush to the website, I would like to add my two cents to the information provided on the website. First of all, it is pretty easy to take photos of ladybugs without catching them or handling them. You can spot ladybugs while out hiking. They sit on plants, usually out in the open. That’s how I got this photograph. The less you handle them the better, especially if you are lucky enough to spot a rare one.
Second, be sure to download and print out the Field Guide. Although the photograph here looks like the one on their website, it is actually the introduced seven-spotted lady beetle, not the nine-spotted one. The Field Guide helps a lot.
To find out more, go to the Lost Ladybug Project <snip>