Killer spider at the Frost! And other observations from 2019 sort session #8

tiny beetle, about 2 mm long, glued to a pointy piece of card stock that is skewered on a pin

Chramesus hicoriae LeConte, 1868 collected during surveys by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Photo (CC BY 2.0) by Andy Deans. Click for source

Finally a Wednesday without a snow/ice storm! Sort session #8 was dedicated to dealing with the huge volume of specimens from old (2014) Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture surveys. I’ve mounted about 200 specimens—in Hymenoptera, Hemiptera, and Coleoptera—and have been pleasantly surprised by the diversity. I’m sure we’ve added new taxa to the collection and definitely new occurrence data. The bark beetle specimen above is Chramesus hicoriae LeConte, 1868, a species known to feed on hickories. It is definitely the cutest insect I came across yesterday (or ever?), although that probably doesn’t come across in this crummy smart phone photo. It was so tiny!

I also spent a few minutes with a tarantula our volunteer, Justin, recently encountered while cataloging and digitizing our spiders. It’s in relatively poor shape:

a tarantula specimen sits in a Petri dish, completely de-articulated, almost unrecognizable as a spider. Its condition is the result of poor storage conditions

Tarantula specimen in our digitization rig. Photo (CC BY 2.0) by Andy Deans. Click for source

But check out that data label. E P I C.

small paper label that reads, in part,

Label that accompanies that poorly preserved tarantula above. Photo (CC BY 2.0) by Andy Deans. Click for source

Here is my best transcription:

Tarantula from Lurifico Peru. Said to have caused the death of 4 men. Brought on board alive after 6 mos. captivity {Mst?} Jones Pacasmayo Oct. 6 / 84

Ha ha ha. Wow. Well, I am highly skeptical that this spider caused the death of four men, but that is a great story. I love sort sessions precisely for this reason – opportunities to examine and learn about many taxa, to add our own high quality specimens and data, to dig deep into our historic collection, and to unearth compelling—if unbelievable—stories. What’ll happen next week!

This entry was posted in curation, Digitization. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *