From Texas A&M University:
None of Takesha Henderson’s discoveries are named Charlotte, but they are weaving a new chapter in Texas entomology. Her graduate studies at Texas A&M University have led to the discovery of 25 new spiders in Brazos County and one species found for the first time in Texas.
In research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Henderson, who is earning a master’s degree, has been studying ground spider diversity, distribution and abundance in the 515-acre Lick Creek Park south of College Station.
She has caught 1,000 specimens in 111 species over two years. The most common were several species of wolf spiders, she said.
A total of 989 species of spiders have been identified in Texas; 280 of these are found in Brazos County.
Dr. Marvin Harris, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station entomologist and chair of Henderson’s master’s committee, began working with her when she was an undergraduate.
“Takesha’s work at Lick Creek Park is expanding our knowledge of this local natural resource and the role such habitats play in nature,” Harris said.
The City of College Station has a long-term commitment to inventory the park, which has diverse plant and animal populations, for changes in habitat, she said.
The park has areas for hiking, bird watching and horseback riding, and is one of the areas that has Navasota Ladies’-Tresses, an endangered orchid.
More information on the park can be found here.
East African jumping spiders eat malaria mosquitoes.
Spiders Create Giant Web
The Associated Press
August 30, 2007
Entomologists are debating the origin and rarity of a sprawling spider web that blankets several trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch of trail in a North Texas park.
Officials at Lake Tawakoni State Park say the massive mosquito trap is a big attraction for some visitors, while others won’t go anywhere near it.
‘At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland,’ said Donna Garde, superintendent of the park about 45 miles east of Dallas. ‘Now it’s filled with so many mosquitoes that it’s turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs.’
Spider experts say the web may have been constructed by social cobweb spiders, which work together, or could be the result of a mass dispersal in which the arachnids spin webs to spread out from one another.
‘I’ve been hearing from entomologists from Ohio, Kansas, British Columbia _ all over the place,’ said Mike Quinn, an invertebrate biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who first posted photos online.
Herbert A. ‘Joe’ Pase, a Texas Forest Service entomologist, said the massive web is very unusual.
‘From what I’m hearing it could be a once-in-a-lifetime event,’ he said.
But John Jackman, a professor and extension entomologist for Texas A&M University, said he hears reports of similar webs every couple of years.
‘There are a lot of folks that don’t realize spiders do that,’ said Jackman, author of ‘A Field Guide to the Spiders and Scorpions of Texas.’
‘Until we get some samples sent to us, we really won’t know what species of spider we’re talking about,’ Jackman said.
Garde invited the entomologists out to the park to get a firsthand look at the giant web.
‘Somebody needs to come out that’s an expert. I would love to see some entomology intern come out and study this,’ she said.
Park rangers said they expect the web to last until fall, when the spiders will start dying off.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.
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