Finding bugs isn’t always easy

The weather here in Jasper National Park has been playing games with us — extreme downpour for a few hours and then less than an hour of dissipation or sunlight. Although the breaks from the rain are great, it alters the playing field in the insect collecting game we play. Instead of expecting great plunders in our malaise traps, we can generally find that we do not catch as many insects in them. Our pan, pit fall, and intercept traps regularly get “rained out” and like the malaise, our catches are not so great.

Goldenrod spider (http://goo.gl/MCgEV)

With all of this rain we depend a lot more on hand collection where we are actively seeking out where insects are hiding. Overturning logs, looking under rocks, sifting through detritus and searching on trees.

Today while doing our regular search the sun appeared and the insect life that had been hiding came out for a quick reprieve. I was lucky enough to come across a Goldenrod spider nearly perfectly blending in on a dandelion. It had it four forelegs extended, which I presume were to be used for an ambush, although the legs greatly resembled the petals of the dandelion. I was so fascinated with the camouflage of the spider that I extended my research through resources that we have on the bus. The Goldenrod spider (Misumena vatia) has yellow and white colourations that it can slowly morph between to best blend in with its surroundings. As many know, camouflage is not an uncommon trait in the animal kingdom, but it was not until we started our rain-adapted insect collection that I realized just how common it was.  I have mostly come across the camouflage in spiders such as the Goldenrod, Wolf and other ones I wasn’t able to identify, although camouflage is apparent in all orders of insects.

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to take a picture of the hidden insects, although, if you would like to see their disguises for your self, try doing an online image search of Goldenrod spiders or wolf spiders, or just camouflaged bugs and you can see the amazing characteristics of these insects.

~Jill

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