Photo of the Week – April 18, 2013

I love that my kids enjoy nature.  My two sons, in particular, are really enthusiastic about insects and spiders at the moment.  So enthusiastic, in fact, that every spider in our house gets picked up and presented to me.

“Dad!  Look at this cool spider!  Take a picture of it!!”

These are the two they found in our basement last week.

This is John's contribution.

This is John’s contribution.  I have no idea what kind it is, but it was very pretty.

.

Daniel's contribution

Daniel’s contribution.  A wolf spider, I believe?  …with only seven legs.  Not sure if it had 7 legs before Daniel saw it or not…

Here’s the thing.  I’m thrilled that my kids are excited about invertebrates and nature, and I want to encourage that as much as I can, but it actually takes quite a bit of time to get a decent photo of a spider or insect.  …Especially when it’s been trapped for a while in a cup or between two hands and is antsy to find cover.  Fortunately, it’s still cold outside, and the number of critters crawling around inside and outside our house is still pretty small.  But summer is coming…

If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’ll be because I’m too busy taking pictures of every insect and spider within a block of our house!

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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13 Responses to Photo of the Week – April 18, 2013

  1. anita says:

    I love taking photos of insects, almost more than I do landscapes :) Great photos…

  2. elfinelvin says:

    Only a block? :)

  3. Al Mittan says:

    More good stuff Chris-we need to keep our kids engaged with nature. We’re all assuming you’ve schooled your sons on what the brown recluse spider looks like.

  4. Ernie says:

    Chris, Spiders are very cool but let the boys know that we do have brown recluse here in Aurora and they should know what they look like and that they take unkindly to being caught by hand.
    Just a reminder that the natural world can cause serious pain and discomfort when messed with.

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Yeah, recluse spiders are a concern, though I’ve never seen one in our house, and I pay pretty close attention… Most of the time, there’s not direct handling unless it’s a jumping spider – cause jumping spiders are SOOOOO cute!

  5. ann norz says:

    I understand that you are busy. Our spiders are found in the bathtub. Do they come out of the spout, or drain? Kids love them and enjoy looking at them. Thanks for all your work. Ann

    • Chris Helzer says:

      Ann – I think spiders in the bathtub are there because they come in from above and then can’t get back out. There’s no way they can come in from the pipes (that I know of) but they’re very active around the rest of the house and tubs are like a pitfall trap – too slippery to crawl back out of. Maybe you should build a “spider ladder” and give them an escape route! If you come up with a good design, there might be some money in it!

  6. Karen Hamburger says:

    I use a terry cloth bath mat in my tub as a ladder. I make sure it touches the bottom of the tub. I rarely find any critters in my tub and I have lots of them in my home

  7. James C. Trager says:

    Bathtubs are like giant pitfall traps fro spiders. Having hard water deposits will help them climb out, but then you’ll have hard water deposits. :)
    Spider taxonomic families can be recognized by eye size and pattern, and visual guides to these (of varying quality; BG’s is good, but almost too detailed) are available on the internet.
    Your first spider looks like Gnaphosidae: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus to me.
    The second is not a wolf spider, and when you check out wolf spider eye patterns with the kids, I think you’ll all agree. I’m thinking it’s a species in Ctenidae, which are rather wolf-spidery looking.

  8. Dara says:

    My kids and I are really glad to have stumbled across your blog. We are just starting to trek more out of the city and into the prairie. Thank you for helping us know what to look for and how to treat the life we encounter.

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