Salticus scenicus “Zebra Jumping Spider” Salticidae (female)

Missoula, MT
June 26, 2014
Robert Niese

This abundant, charismatic jumping spider was introduced to the US from Europe, but can now be found throughout most of the North American continent.

Advertisements

Thanatus formicinus Philodromidae

Missoula, MT
May 13, 2014
Robert Niese

Thanatus formicinus literally translates to “ant-like death spider.” Fortunately, these large, agile spiders do not live up to their names and are completely incapable of killing anything larger than a nickel. Look for them along dry, rocky river beds or open talus slopes.

Tegenaria agrestis ”Hobo spider” Agelenidae (male)

Missoula, MT
September 19, 2013
Robert Niese

The “Hobo Spider” is one of the most unjustly detested house spiders in North America. Like all spiders, Tegenaria are venomous and can bite, but rarely will they do so. Perhaps due to their impressive skittering speed or diurnal nature, their species epithet, agrestis, is often assumed to mean “aggressive.” In Latin, however, agrestis actually means rural, and these spiders would much rather run away from you, than bite your finger.

Larix occidentalis “Western Larch” Pinaceae
with Bryoria sp. “Tree-hair Lichen" 

Seeley Lake, MT
September 13, 2014
Robert Niese

Larch is one of North America’s only deciduous conifers. Here in western Montana, needles are just beginning to turn yellow in mid-September.
Bryoria is a common lichen throughout the PNW and was once a common food source for more than 40 local tribes, in spite of nearly indistinguishable toxic species co-occurring throughout most of their range.

Chalcophora angulicollis "Western Sculpted Pine Borer" Buprestidae

Missoula, MT
July 10, 2014
Robert Niese

I found these massive woodborers in abundance (even on campus here at the U of MT) for a few weeks between late June and early July. They’re especially easy to identify in flight. Just listen for the miniature helicopter.

Chalcophora angulicollis “Western Sculpted Pine Borer” Buprestidae

Missoula, MT
July 10, 2014
Robert Niese

I found these massive woodborers in abundance (even on campus here at the U of MT) for a few weeks between late June and early July. They’re especially easy to identify in flight. Just listen for the miniature helicopter.

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) Turdidae

Missoula, MT
May 13, 2014
Robert Niese

Most birds that posses such striking blue plumage typically get these gorgeous colors from tiny air pockets inside the feathers that scatter light in a way that makes them appear blue. Learn more.

Antheraea polyphemus “Polyphemus Moth” Saturniidae (male)

Missoula, MT
June 11, 2014
Robert Niese

Surprisingly, I found this enormous moth (15 cm wingspan!) in a parking lot on my way into work on the University of Montana campus.

Parasemia plantaginis “Wood Tiger Moth” Arctiidae (now Erebidae)

Missoula, MT
June 15, 2014
Robert Niese

This common, variably-patterned tiger moth is a dayflier and often seen in the moist valleys around Missoula during our peak hiking season. It has a circumboreal distribution, but is the only member of its genus in our area.