Weekend Expedition 73: Mississauga woodlands with Gil

Yesterday I went out to the woodlands near University of Toronto Mississauga with Gil for a springtime walk. We were hoping to see some post-breeding Ambystoma salamanders, and whatever else caught our eye…After a long cold and largely photo-free winter, this outing proved to be rather awesome…

The first big spider we saw was this pretty amaurobiid.

Their velvety abdomens are quite lovely in soft light.

On one of the treetrunks we examined, we saw this gorgeous little male jumper.

What a stunning little spider! What could he be? He looks reminiscent of Habronattus

Turns out this is Naphrys pulex, indeed a Habronattus relative, and such a handsome fellow!

Gil found this anyphaenid (ghost spider) and as soon as I saw it, I knew Catherine would be very excited. We don’t have a ton of these in BC, but it seems Ontario has a few more.

What an elegant looking ghost spider!

We did find some Ambystoma, starting with this awesome Jefferson’s salamander

And a spotted salamander was a real treat to see in the wild!

Look at the pretty spots! So cool to see in a burrowing salamander.

I did find a lovely ant in the genus Aphaenogaster…This somewhat large red one should be easy to ID to species, but my book is at the ROM currently…

And the absolutely, most fabulous find of the day (in my opinion) was this absolutely stunning hibernating queen European Hornet…

We do not get these in BC, so I was hugely impressed by the large size and vivid colours of this monster of a queen!

I am sure this is one of the most lovely social wasps I have laid eyes on in North America….

The day was rounded out nicely with the find of a pair of Platycryptus undatus, larger eastern versions of the Platycryptus californicus we are used to from BC

Really impressive jumpers these P. undatus are, with gorgeous fuzzy faces!

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