Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Spider Citizen Science

I was listening to the radio a couple of weeks ago and heard that Nature PEI was looking for citizen scientists to collect spiders. Apparently PEI only has 38 known species of spiders, not because that is the real number of species we have, but because no one has ever bothered to count them. Nova Scotia has 437 known species, New Brunswick has 382, so it stands to reason that PEI must have more than 38.
I took three of my boys along to an informative workshop (including a nature walk with some hands-on spider catching practice!), and we've been collecting spiders. 

My favourite so far has been a Black and Yellow Argiope (sorry no picture, but you can see one here) of impressive size. I noticed its web first, an orb web with a zig-zag "zipper" down the center. I watched the web for a while, hoping to see the spider. After some time, I noticed it in the grass below the web and caught it.

Nature PEI has provided us with everything we need to collect the spiders, including a large canvas bug net. The boys love "sweeping" for spiders, shaking grasses and bushes, then bringing them all back to me to capture in our little vials. Of course, they catch many other interesting bugs as well as they do this.

I love citizen science! Have you had opportunities for citizen science? Would you go for spiders?

(19/8/15 Edited to add this picture of another Black and Yellow Argiope that my husband saw and photographed a couple of years ago, also on PEI. This one was much larger than the one I caught, about the size of his thumb, he said. Also, since I published this post, I have discovered that this spider is not one of the 38 known spiders on PEI, so we have made a scientific discovery here, folks! lol.)