The first vegetarian spider of the season (with a catch).

Today I found Bagheera kiplingi at Palo Verde Biological Station, after searching more than 200 Vachellia plants. They definitely aren’t common around here, but this is the first time (that I know of) it has been documented in the area.

It looked just like this one, too!
It looked just like this one, too!

I found it where I find most Bagheera spiders, inside a rolled-up leaf on an acacia (Vachellia) plant.

Plenty of Vachellia plants out there, and plenty of stinging ants!
Plenty of Vachellia plants out there, and plenty of stinging ants!

Admittedly, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I found the spider, because I’d had to completely cover my body for protection from the mosquitoes, and I also hadn’t gotten that much sleep last night. The number of little, blood-sucking insects was just unbelieveable–everywhere I went, there was a constant, high-pitched hum of hundreds upon hundreds of mosquitoes looking for some spot to land on my skin (and finding a spot in even the tiniest little space).

Okay, okay, I'll take one selfie.
Okay, okay, I’ll take one selfie.

I didn’t get much sleep because last night was when the termites swarmed, and my entire bathroom (and bedroom) were filled with flying insects. They were just thin enough to pull their bodies through the screens on the windows and around the roof, and they fluttered around the lights by the dozens. I would’ve taken a picture, but I would’ve gotten covered, and decided it would be better to retreat under my mosquito net. They did leave plenty of evidence of their visit the next day, though:

There was a pile of wings under my sink...
There was a pile of wings under my sink…
And lots of dead bodies in the shower.
And lots of dead bodies in the shower.

What I learned since then was that the males and females leave their nests, find each other, mate, shed their wings, and then crawl to a new home. It’s actually kind of touching, I guess, provided that I didn’t have to live through the middle of it!

Anyway, back to the spider. It appeared to be female, and just about ready to molt one last time and take her adult female form. When I saw her, I’ll admit to a gasp and a cry of “Bagheera!,” although nobody was around for kilometers to hear. My discovery wasn’t as happy as I was, it seemed, and didn’t realized that I wouldn’t hurt her (since I’m still waiting for my collection permits), yet she nevertheless tried to jump to safety…

Big mistake.

After she had made the leap, she hung from the line of silk she’d let out (which keeps her from falling all the way to the ground), and she just sort of dangled there like this:

And before I could scoop her back up again to safety, a green dragonfly swooped down and grabbed her right off the line!

It looked an awful lot like this one, in fact. Image credit: Pam Penick
It looked an awful lot like this one, in fact. Image credit: Pam Penick

Talk about a disappointment, although little Bagheera had an ending that was worse than any human frustration. I’ll keep looking tomorrow, and in the meantime, I’ll continue my battle with the mosquitoes:

I just went to scratch my neck, and this is what I find!
I just went to scratch my neck, and this is what I find!
Maybe I should take a cue from my daughter about keeping mosquitoes away.
Maybe I should take a cue from my daughter about keeping mosquitoes away.
Or maybe I should sleep in this!
Or maybe I should sleep in this!

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