once again, the stars have aligned (in a tiny 8-eyed formation, the way i imagine it) on webnesday.  this morning, one of my colleagues sailed into the office, announcing that she’d brought me a present — a large, newly dead Cambridgea foliata in a jar.  she assured me that she had found it dead in the driveway and was not responsible for its demise, and it looks pretty untouched — loooong legs curled serenely, biiiig jaws (another male) folded tidily.  i plan to have a good look at it under the microscope as soon as i get the chance — but not today.  (sorry, how much of a tease was that?!)  instead i can, in good conscience, continue in the theme of the US trip, with all the nice spiders i saw along the way.  as usual, there was a nice variety.  dad had started to scout them out for me even before i arrived, announcing that there was a nice orb weaver established near the cabin basement door.

he had even started to feed her.

(that last photo is his… i had to put it at the end because it’s better than all of mine.)  ;)

there were a few other pretty spectacular ones in and around the cabin, including an amazingly fat, glossy black one (same shape as the first one from last summer) with a red stripe, who had taken up residence, appropriately, in the shiny red canoe.   i took some photos of her but can’t find them, so i’ll come back and edit this if they turn up.  bumbly got startled by a large wolf spider scuttling out of a puzzle tube, and had the presence of mind to capture her for me; this proved to be one of the coolest spiders all summer, because she was just about to molt.  i’d never watched a spider molt before, and it was kind of amazing to see the soft body emerging from the old, perfect shell, and to watch her flex her legs as the new chitin hardened. 

in hindsight, the sieve was probably not the best photographic background, but she needed to be suspended from something while the molt was taking place.  oh well — i know for next time.  when she was finished, we tried the eye-shine trick with her (as with the other lycosid), and it worked — i just can’t get over the sparkly eyes!

we also found a couple of very cool spiders back at lester lake (more about this lake to follow) — lots of grass-spiders (Agelenopsis spp. — like this one), and one lovely little crab spider hiding in the clover.

to round things out, the zoo in omaha (where we went at the end of the trip) had a very cool exhibit on that included spiders from… hmm.   malaysia?  seems likely.  anyway, hanging in their gossamer webs high above the admiring (and/or squicked out) public were lots of our old friend Nephila.  one of the  keepers even brought one down so we could get a better look – man, they are amazing.

and that’s what i did with my summer vacation.  ::::)