Updated October 24, 2013.
Since 2005 these are the dates I’ve photographed a tarantula at Ahmanson Ranch (Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve).
September 05 (2012)
September 08 (2006)
September 13 (2005)
September 19 (2007)
September 15 (2009)
October 3 (2012)
October 9 (2012)
October 11 (2006)
October 12 (2011)
October 17 (2012) (2)
October 23 (2013)
Autumn is when maturing male tarantulas (Aphonopelma spp.) wander about in search of a mate.
I was beginning to wonder if I would see a tarantula at Ahmanson this Fall. The last time I hadn’t seen a tarantula in September or October was 2008. Yesterday I spotted this one on the main fire road in East Las Virgenes Canyon on a run over to Cheeseboro Canyon.
The title photograph is from a run on September 5, 2012. The raised abdomen is a defensive posture. Tarantulas will scrape their abdomen with their bristly rear legs, launching irritating (urticating) barbed hairs into the air. Most tarantulas I’ve encountered this time of year do not react defensively — they’re just interested in finding a mate.
Some related posts: Tarantula Time, Sting of the Tarantula Hawk, Tarantula Hawk
We had run from Mt. Pinos (8831′) to Mt. Abel (~8280′) on the Vincent Tumamait Trail stopping by Sawmill Mountain (8816′) and Sheep Camp (8200′) along the way. Valley temps were forecast be well into the 100s, but here had ranged from a cool 60-something in the shade to the high 70s on the exposed sections of trail — perfect for trail running.
I’d paused at about 8700′ on the way back up Mt. Pinos to take a photo of some phlox, when a western tiger swallowtail flitted past and started to land here and there on a spiney low shrub at the margin of the trail. There was something peculiar about the butterfly’s behavior. Rather than stopping completely, it would hover briefly at one spot and then move to another. There were no flowers on the snow bush where it was hovering, so it wasn’t feeding.
Perhaps 18-24 inches away, the butterfly reacted when I started to move the camera, so I just stood quietly, holding the camera near my waist and took several photos.
A closer look at the photos revealed the butterfly was laying golden-green eggs on the snow bush.
Some related posts: Tiger Swallowtail on Snow Plant, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Vincent Tumamait Trail, Thunderstorm, Atmospheric Dynamics