While Malaise traps are most useful for capturing flying species, 69 species collected in the Fall School Malaise Trap Program were spiders which certainly don’t fly! These 69 spider species belonged to 57 different genera of 21 families – a very diverse group! Westside Secondary School in Orangeville, Ontario collected the greatest number of spider species with 14.
One very interesting find of the Fall program was the spider species Pholcus manueli which was collected at Glendale Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario and represents the first record of this species from Canada! Pholcus manueli is a cellar spider, belonging to the family Pholcidae. Cellar spiders are often confused with harvestmen (order Opiliones) and share the common name of daddy longlegs. Cellar spiders and harvestmen are rumoured to be some of the most venomous animals in the world but they are, in fact, harmless to humans. Cellar spiders typically live indoors where they build webs and hang upside down, waiting for their insect prey.
In previous years, occurrences of Pholcus manueli were restricted to Asia and to the southern regions of the United States. However, within the past five years, the range of this species has expanded to the midwestern United States, particularly Ohio, where it has taken the place of another invasive species, Pholcus phalangioides, and become very abundant in barns, sheds, and basements. The collection of this species in Hamilton with the School Malaise Trap Program suggests that it is continuing to spread northward, potentially due to climate change. The quick spread of Pholcus manueli may seem surprising particularly when you consider that this species is not known to disperse through ballooning, where a spider produces a ‘parachute’ out of silk threads that can carry it in the wind for long distances. However, this species may be able to disperse long distances through phoresy, where one animal attaches to another, perhaps a mammal or bird, for transport. Can you think of other ways that this spider species could have arrived in Canada?
Check out our Fall 2014 Detailed Program Report here!
Today we showed a class of grade sixes and Kindergartens our Malaise Trap. They thought it was really cool! Also while another class was out they noticed that a spider has been stealing our bugs! It built a web right under where the bugs would fall into the ethanol, so instead they would get trapped, then dinner would be served for the spider!
We put our Malaise trap up on Monday, September 22. The insects will fly right up to the top of the trap and there is a hole at the top and the bottle is attached to the hole.
There is ethanol in this bottle so the insects get trapped in the bottle and die.
On Friday, September 26, we took it down to see how many insects we have caught.
The ethanol in the bottle, believe it or not, actually changed colours!!! It was sort of a brownish colour instead of being clear. Most of the bugs were dead at the bottom of the bottle along with some floating insects. The floating insects looked like they were swimming. I think it’s because they just got in the bottle over night so they are probably just making their way down.
Today, September 29, we went back to the location where we have set up the Malaise Trap. Because the cloud coverage was only about 3%, I thought we wouldn’t catch many bugs. Usually there are insects flying in my face every day. But today there were no insects in the air. That’s why I predicted we wouldn’t catch lots of insects today! We found 2 ladybugs around the tent though, so maybe we will catch some crawling critters, such as: ladybugs, spiders, or maybe even beetles. Because those bugs can crawl up the net right into the bottle, as they look for shelter when the weather is rainy.
St. Paul Elementary School is located in South Burlington, Ontario. Our trap has been deployed in the back of the schoolyard in a field where the students play during recess. One side of the field is adjacent to houses, another side has a bike path, and the third side has a track. Today was the third day that we monitored the trap.
Currently we have a catch volume of about 1.5. We have been very excited to check our collection bottle everyday. It contains a lot of very small flying insects, and at least one wasp and spider.