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Monday, May 18, 2009

Window Shade Buddy/Shaking News

I sat down last night at the kitchen table where my internet computer is located to write a serene little bit about arthropods that visit with us at the kitchen table.

And so I began: Next to the chair where I sit to eat breakfast is a south-facing window with tan colored plastic mini-blinds hanging in it (among other things). Frequently a creature will be there joining me in the early morning. This morning it was a

When at about 8:41 pm we had a good old fashioned southern CA earthquake. There was a longish rumble (however these impressions are always highly subjective) but no damage to my creaky little abode. The glass bugs, crystals and other dangling things in the breakfast window barely moved, and not even one car alarm went off. I decided to see how long it took for the barely moderate shaker to hit the news on the internets.

spider. I'm guessing this is either a Long-legged sac spider, Cheiracanthium sp., or possibly a ghost spider, maybe Anyphaena californica, based on some pictures at Bugguide and

LA Times put up a breaking news banner at 8:47, about 8 minutes after the quake. No story until 9:00pm. Then they reported a 5.0 centered just about under LAX.

Arthropods of OC. In fact, according to the genus page on Bugguide, sac spiders and ghost spiders are similar, ghost spiders being distinguished by having distinctive hairs on the bottom of their feet and the tracheal opening farther in front of the spinnerets. Thanks, expert bug people at Bugguide for sharing intimate details of spider morphology!

Yahoo local news had a feed from OC Register at 9:03, just before it came up on the OC Reg website. They called it a 4.7 that occurred at 8:39 (I concur), however their story had a time stamp of 7:48pm. The many comments on this story ("Do we need to evacuate?" Jessica 8:00 pm; "Do not evacuate. No tsunami." Gary Robbins OC Reg science writer 8:01 pm) seem to be in possession of knowledge of the quake before the actual event!

About this time I gave up writing this post about the spider. I wasn't sure about the ID anyway having been distracted by the quake.

At about 9:20 the Reg revised its assessment to 5.0. (We Orange Countians are pretty smart but under pressure we will defer to intellectuals esp. when we think they may be right.) They did not update the timestamps though, so I can only conclude that somehow people here in OC experienced the quake a full hour before it hit!

Anyway, it feels nice to have other species to keep company with over coffee and breakfast, it being after all a small friendly planet and the only one we've all got. I had an open-faced bacon-bell pepper and tomato sandwich on 8-grain bread (sounds decadent, but not as evil as it seems at 300 calories). I had a look at the windowsill to see what the spider may have been eating lately: several crane flies, some fungus gnats, lots of green lacewings, numerous small moths, a few assorted other flies

Checking the print version this morning, I was distracted by the Column One story about a hunt for rain beetles in the southern Sierra and a broadening of our understanding of their success and dispersal. Good read, in which it is revealed (among other things) that the female's pheromone smells like Lemon Pledge.

and a honeybee. This morning the spider wasn't in evidence but could be holed up in any of the numerous cracks and crevices in the 1930s-built window frame, survivor of many southern CA earthquakes.

Both papers now report the quake was a 4.7. Check out the USGS survey of our quake perceptions.


Legend in my own mind said...

Reed and I were in his room when the quake hit, and Reed's first comment was that something was making his John Lackey and Torii Hunter bobblehead head's bobble.

vanessa cardui said...

Baseball nerds, gotta love 'em.