Posts Tagged ‘tunnel’

In the Rock Pile

Rocks edged all my gardens until I reduced the number of gardens and made a pile with the rocks.


Obviously, spiders like the rock pile. The spiders living among the rocks are wolf spiders (which have a painful bite.)


I wish I could’ve seen the spider spin this web. It’s so graceful in its simplicity.


Some spiders will wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of the burrow.


Taking their picture poses a problem too … they usually stay down in their tunnel.


They do tend to blend in with their surroundings.


Their drab coloring makes them difficult to see. They depend on camouflage for protection.


They are nocturnal. All the webs in my rock pile are taken down every morning  and rebuilt later in the day.


I never did get a good look at this spider … so I was never sure if this was an abdomen or egg sac.

The female carries her eggs in an egg sac, which is attached to her spinnerets. The newly-hatched young climb up on her back and stay there until they’re big enough to be on their own. I haven’t seen one with an egg sac or with young.

Grass Spiders

October 2, 2015

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 For some reason, it surprised me to find grass spider webs this late in the season.

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I couldn’t find the entry tunnel for this one.

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I couldn’t see the spider until

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it came to the mouth of the tunnel.

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Their eggs overwinter in an egg sac, which is usually outside the web, sometimes under the bark of a nearby tree. The spiderlings disperse in the spring and build small webs apart from each other.

They are a quick-running spider and depend on speed to catch their prey.

I was also intrigued with the reflections on the dense dew drop covering the webs.

One of Nature’s Artists

A small dead branch, about 7 feet long, had fallen out of dawn redwood tree in my backyard. It had been dead long enough for all the bark to fall off.

This exposed signs of bark beetle activities underneath.


Bark beetles are teeny insects that bore through the bark, and the larvae feed in the layer of wood between the bark and the limb. Most of them overwinter as mature larvae. They then pupate in the spring. The adults either remain in the tree, or bore out of it and fly to new trees.

The particular species in the picture above, the female makes a channel in the wood with niches on each side. She then lays an egg in each niche. The larvae eat the wood out from the main tunnel.

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Some species of bark beetles spend their whole life inside the tree. I wonder if this one did that? The larger hole and the shape of the chamber seem to indicate it did.


We can follow the life and growth of this bark beetle by the chamber (shown in this and the four following pictures).


The tunnel gradually widens as it curves along.


A zig and a zag as the larva continues.


It seemed to grow rapidly and maybe change its eating habits somewhat (with the quickly widening of the chamber).


With the bark missing I can only speculate that the beetle bored out through the bark and either stayed in this tree or flew to another one.


This shows some of the bark beetle activity near the base of the small limb.


Then I remembered another bark beetle tunnel … in a piece of petrified wood I found years ago in an outcrop on the side of a road.


It’s not the best preservation, but it does have the identifying details. The underside of the rock shows the thin bark of the wood.

Who Tunneled Here?

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 Buffy and I went to Ingram Hill. We go often for a short walk  and for the long view.

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Most of the snow and ice from a recent winter storm had finally melted. This tunnel looked to have been dug under the snow.

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I have little to no experience when it comes to identifying tunnels. I recognize ones from crawdads in our yard and the change in them if one of our impressive-size king snakes takes it over.

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My first thought was mouse, and I’m calling it that, until and if, I learn differently.


Another reason to visit Ingram hill is that one of my favorite trees grows there.

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The oak’s been struck by lightning twice that I know of. That was before I took this picture. A tornado went by close enough to do damage 3 years ago, and required trimming some limbs. I took this picture before the storm damage. The trunk has a 13-foot circumference, and the crown spread measures 37 yards (111 feet).

Wondering About Cicadas

I have finally started hearing cicadas. Until now, I’d only heard one every now and then. I began to worry about them with the drought we’re having (14 inches behind), and if the nymphs could even dig out with the ground so hard.

The pictures I’m including here were taken last summer when we had an impressive population of the 13-year cicadas (also called periodical cicadas). Half-inch holes were common too from where the nymphs tunneled out.

 They then climbed up nearby plants, split their skin and emerged.

Shed skins were everywhere.

Periodical cicadas have a black body and red eyes. Annual cicadas, also called dog-day cicadas, are brown, green and white.

The triangle of hackberry, pine and sweet gum trees that surround my spring wildflower garden was where the most emergence occured. They were everywhere! On every plant and in several other areas around the yard too.

There was a whole lot of mating going on.

Periodical cicadas emerge in May through June in Illinois; the dog-day ones emerge July through August. After mating, the female makes a slit in a pencil-size twig and lays her eggs. The eggs hatch 6-10 weeks later.  The tiny cicadas returns to the underground tunnels. Here they feed on roots as they mature until the next mass emergence. In the case of the ones in the pictures that emerged in 2011, they won’t emerge until 2024. So basically, we see only a snippet of their long life.