A weekend without moths can lead a lepidopterist to do crazy things. Crazy enough to photograph a spider. Over the weekend I was accompanied to the eastern Sierra by fellow insect blogger, coworker and arachnologist, Tamas Szuts. I was on the quest for more specimens of a new Hepialidae of which you may be familiar with from an earlier post. I heard reports from others that at elevations of 11,000’+ there was still a significant snowpack even by the end of July. I figured the moth may be flying late this year, if at all. I was hoping to catch the end of summer and the moth both in perfect synchronization. Such was not my luck. I awoke on Saturday morning, sat upright, and brushed the frost off of my sleeping bag while desperately willing myself to brave the morning chill. Temps must have been pushing 25 degrees, a sign that autumn had return to the mountains. Two traps, a black light sheet and running around at dusk yielded zero Hepialidae and only ten moths in total (four species).
And so I was encouraged by Tamas to actually photograph a non-lep, something that I should do more often. He had joined me eager to not only see the Sierra for the first time, but to find the beautiful Salticidae – Habronattus americanus. This little jumper can be found in the western states in rocky areas above 7,000′. After an hour or two of searching, Tamas finally captured a stunning pair. I must agree that this is a beautiful little spider. Visit his blog (in Hungarian) to see some of his stunning images as well.