Last week I finally managed to get out of the office and into the field. More specifically, to one of the most beautiful forests in the greater Montreal region – Mont St. Hilaire. This UNESCO biosphere reserve has a fascinating geological history, amazing flora and fauna, and contains some lovely habitats not found in other parts of the St. Lawrence Lowlands, including some rocky outcrops of higher elevation (circa 300-400 m above sea level – not much by some standards, but certainly higher elevation than the rest of the St Lawrence lowlands).
One of the objectives of the field trip was to kickstart a jumping spider survey of the region – jumping spiders are the darlings of the arthropod world – charming and charismatic critters, beautiful, and with stunning courtship behaviours. They attract attention to spiders (in a positive way), and one of my goals is to increase awareness about our eight-legged friends.
The trip started out in fog, and we felt as if we were in Middle-Earth for most of the morning. My two helpers, however, remained enthusiastic and optimistic. We had an early lunch, and the sun finally started burning off the clouds and fog, and the jumping spiders came out.
We were quite thrilled to see Euophrys monadnock hopping around the rocky outcrops. Males of this (tiny) species are vibrant, with their yellow pedipalps, yellow tarsi, and two red legs.
As we were heading back into the forest, we also encountered an Ant that wasn’t quite right. Its movements were a bit off, and its body shape was not quite right. In fact, it was not an Ant, it was a jumping spider that mimics Ants. Stunning little creature!
In sum, a successful day – the sun came out, the jumping spiders were jumping, and we were reminded of how important it is to get out into the field every now and then.