I’ve been to several conferences now, but never have I been anywhere that I did not have to justify, sell, or explain arachnids as a model system. It was surreal being surrounded by other eight-legged enthusiasts. The community among arachnologists was clearly tightly-knit yet so welcoming. I was impressed at the continuity, with many members making every effort to attend each international meeting, rekindling connections decade after decade and making new ones. I was sold, I certainly intend on making it to the next arachnology meeting! The mid-week excursion took place at Hinewai Reserve on the Banks Peninsula. I was particularly surprised at the amount of Diaea sp. crab spiders I came across. It was a touch dry, but I still managed to find two harvestmen by flipping rocks around the small waterfall and stream during the daytime.
Left: A teeny male Diaea sp. crab spider collected in a sweep net. Right: A Diaea sp. crab spider that I captured mid-molt. It appears that the spider has a “second head” when in fact, it is the shed exoskeleton carapace still attached to the abdomen. You can also see the “dragline” or safety line of silk that the spider hangs from as it completes the delicate molting process.
The drive between Christchurch and Hinewai Reserve was especially scenic.
In my natural habitat hunting for and photographing arthropods!