Monday, December 30, 2013

Babies in a mossy forest

Laurie broke a small twig off a tree and brought it in to show me its cargo of lichen and moss.

Mossy, lichened twig propped in a glass.

But there was more to it than green stuff. The moss was dried out, and I sprayed it with de-chlorinated water to watch it revive. Instantly, the leaves shook themselves, and spread out; moss absorbs the water it needs through the leaves, not the roots, so there's no waiting for it to trickle down to the soil (or bark, in this case.)

While I watched, a tiny spider emerged from the thickets. And then another. And another. A couple of tinier ones dropped to the table and began to dry themselves off.

This one is about 3 mm. long. I don't recognize his pattern, and the eyes are barely visible.

Another 3 mm. cutie.

And one of the tiny tinies, about 2 mm. long, legs and all. It is so new, its abdomen is still rumpled, and it's still semi-transparent. It was trapped in a drop of water, too weak to break the surface tension until I helped it along with my paintbrush.

I looked and looked for some sort of prey for these spiders; they had to have been eating something in the moss. I found two springtails and one red mite, each big enough to keep a spider this size busy for a few days.

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