Battery Warren Herp adventure...
Following the very informative Think & Drink session from naturalist Gabe Shuler, we enjoyed an equally informative walk along the Battery Warren Trail in Francis Marion National Forest a few days later.
We were joined by Ben Morrison, Field Project Manager for the Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy (ARC), and between them we spent many hours in the woods and along the river bank of the Santee River.
Before we set out though, there was an introduction to a Canebrake Rattle Snake that Gabe was needing to relocate!
We were soon out in the woods though, and spotted spiders galore. One in particular was a first for me: the Red Backed Jumping Spider. Definitely a challenge to photograph as it was about the size of your pinky finger nail and I was 10 feet away! Oh, and it kept moving!
There were also the ubiquitous Golden Silk Orb Weavers, one seen here with a few males for company.
It wasn't long before the log-turning (expertly done by those with snake hooks) gave us our first snake. A Copperhead...not very big, but still a copperhead! We all got our photos before he was covered by the log again.
We saw surprisingly few snakes. In fact we only saw one other: a Cottonmouth that was too shy to have it's photo taken! There was still plenty to see though and this Bronze Frog gave itself up for ID inspection!
There was one other frog I photographed, but I missed the ID, so if you know what it is, feel free to jump in and add a comment below!
Gabe also managed to find the home of a Purseweb Spider, although we didn't see the spider. They build 6-10" tubular 'webs' against the base of a tree, and if you didn't know what you were looking at, it'd be easy to miss as they are very well camouflaged! So well done Gabe!
Our final exciting find of the day was a Bagworm Moth Caterpillar. Keep in mind this 'structure' is about 5" long, and here's a little info:
The bag is constructed by the caterpillar from its silk and the foliage of the host plant. The bags are attached to twigs with a silken girdle and dangle down, often masked because of the foliage stuck to the outside on the bags.
The wormlike female lacks wings and, in most species, remains in her bag during mating, where she will also later deposit her eggs. Female evergreen bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) lay their eggs within their bags and then crawl out of the bags and fall to the ground, where they die. Bagworm larvae are often destructive to trees, especially evergreens.
Thought a video would be best as you can see the caterpillar struggle to drag that bag up the tree!
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