Thursday, February 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
In the dead of winter, it was 82 degrees F... the sky was a beautiful blue without a cloud in sight. There was a soft off shore breeze perhaps 2-3 knots... if that... just to get the few tigers (who were out today) to fly more then five feet.

Up in the upper marsh of Mugu the pans were fairly slicked down from the rains from a month ago... was it a month? No! Strange weather!... The Halictidae burrows were mostly covered over by a thin crust of salt. This allowed the few tigers that were adults to come out to play. A few ladybird beetles flew here and there.

The Lycosidae snuck out from the safety of the Salicornia sp. and Frankenia sp. on the pannes and tried to blend with the back ground - they stood over cracks in the soil - to hide from the Pompilidae who were out hunting for fat spiders for their rookeries. My large (body 2 cm, legs 1.5 cm each) female, caught in September, lets me pet her legs - softly with a toothpick (their bite can become necrotic) and has not taken much food lately. She may be ready to mate.... in which case her wolf spider brothers and sisters in Mugu are in the same condition. A scary time for these creatures - ready do mating displays but, also a special time for the spider wasps, too.

The sun is very important to animals that cannot create the warmth they need for high energy tasks like foraging for food, hunting, mating, running from danger. Tigers bask in the sun so that they can become the fierce hunters we know and love. It is also a way to be able to escape their predators... like me or birds or spiders. Warming in the sun may also play a part in how well they out maneuver the fast flies that they eat, and may determine their rank the inter and intra species hierarchy, too.

The salt pannes are warm in the sun and the tigers find this very enjoyable. I found this Cicindela senilis frosti basking, turning this side and then the other side to the sun... then again turning its backside to the sun... a full rotation.

Most C. s. frosti caught and pinned in the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the Santa Barbara Museum are grey with off white markings. The C. s. frosti that I have caught at Mugu come in grey, green, blue, and reddish colors. this one has it all. green, red here and there, and grey. Beautiful.

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