Saturday, January 31, 2015

9-Dec-2014 Randall Morgan Sandhills Preserve, Felton, California

View into the preserve from the gate.
Today Clothilde and I had permission to collect cones in the Randall Morgan Sandhills Preserve thanks to folks at the Sandhills Alliance for Natural Diversity who put me in touch with folks at the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County.  The preserve encompasses an old open pit sand mine, so what was once a hill of forested sand is now a sandy hole with encroaching sandhills vegetation.

Collecting site with commanding
view of Mt. Hermon Rd.
We found a nice accumulation of cones amid pine needles and oak leaves on the forested quarry rim overlooking Mt. Hermon Road.  These cones, as we so frequently found elsewhere in the preserve and sandhills region, had scales only partway open.

Metacyrba sp. epigynum
From 23 cones we extracted two spiders by the beat method (nothing by the peel method): a juvenile salticid and a female salticid.  We also collected several pseudoscorpions, an arachnid not uncommonly found in fallen pine cones.

Clothilde with our bag o' cones
Thanks to an assist from Rod Crawford and The Peckham Society's extensive online resources, we've tentatively ID'd the female salticid as Metacyrba taeniola similis.

This was my final pine cone spider collecting trip for 2014 in California.  The next set of blog posts will describe the 7-day spidering expedition to Washington state's Chelan and Spokane counties that Rod Crawford and I took in October, 2013.  Stay tuned!

1-Dec-2014 Quarry Road West Spur, Felton, California

Wet cones and needles indicated recent rain
The suburban area west of the Graniterock's Quail Hollow Quarry looked full of possibilities in the satellite photos, but Clothilde and I found few cones and even fewer open cones during our thorough search of the neighborhood’s accessible ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa), which weren’t many to begin with.  Having had success finding cones on the east spur of Quarry Road last week, we decided to go back and explore its west spur.  The manzanita shrubs along the trail were still in bloom and absolutely mobbed with hummingbirds.

Poison oak in fall raiment
Cone scales only partly open
Clothilde discovered poison oak.  I won’t say how.

Passing a leaky wooden water tank, several friendly water district workers and a monumental cross apparently erected when industrialist Henry J. Kaiser owned the land (a survey marker was stamped “HJ Kaiser”), we found an extensive patch of cones on a needle-strewn sandy slope below some mature ponderosas.  As has frequently been the case in the sandhills, the scales on the cones were hardly halfway open, but as I keep saying, the microhabitat is what it is.

View across closed quarry to Skypark
View across Skypark to quarry wall.
We collected 20 cones and retreated to Skypark to process them, once again taking in the reciprocal views from quarry rim to Skypark and back again.

Today's compliment of Homo sapiens in the park included a group of painfully insecure teens, a group of groundskeepers listening to songs with misogynistic lyrics during their lunch break, and an adorably nerdy chemistry student who asked some really good questions.

The front end of a dictynid.
The front end of a Xysticus crab spider.
The cones may have been soggy and poorly opened, but they still had a few spiders in them: two dictynids and a male Xysticus (Thomisidae).  Another day, another data point on the Chart of Spider Knowledge.



Friday, January 30, 2015

25-Nov-2014 Quarry Road East Spur, Felton, California

The cone-producing tree.
Today Clothilde and I headed directly for Michael Gray Field, the Santa Cruz County baseball diamond I’d spotted on my previous trip.  Disappointingly but not too surprisingly, every last cone had been removed from beneath the magnificent ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) behind the field.  It would have been a unique collecting spot, to be sure, given that the only plant in the understory was ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis), the South African invasive that has been so successful at colonizing California’s coastal cliffs…and apparently also the dust mote region of at least one inland baseball diamond.

Leaving our car parked at Gray Field, we walked to the nearby Quarry Road gate and were delighted to see at least half a dozen linked locks on its chain.  This usually spells “public” rather than “private”, and seeing no signs warning away trespassers, we headed into a lovely ponderosa forest with a manzanita shrub understory in full bloom.  We would learn soon enough by the San Lorenzo Valley Water District truck passing us that a) this was indeed public land, and b) by the driver’s friendly wave that nobody minded that we were there.  We didn’t have to travel far along the eastern spur of the road to find our cones.

Cones on needles and oak leaves.
Empty spider egg sac on cone scale.
We processed our cones again in Felton’s Skypark, where, looking west from our picnic table, we could see the inner western wall of a closed quarry.  Today’s collection site had been just over that rim.

Together we collected seven spiders from our 20-cone sample, five by the tapping method and two by the peel method.

18-Nov-2014 Quail Hollow Ranch, Felton, California

"The office"
Collecting solo today with an eye towards Zayante Road, I headed up to Quail Hollow Ranch County Park and quickly found plenty of fallen ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) cones on a trail along the forest edge, just south of the horse stables.  The nearby picnic table that I processed the cones on was situated next to a tiny, coot-inhabited pond.  And it didn’t rain more than a few drops.  Can't get any better than that!

Cone processing went smoothly, the only interruptions being a park official who fired up a front-end loader just to drive 20 yards over to me to tell me to move my car; a friendly couple with a tiny threadbare dog; and a jogger who was enthused to meet another arachnophile and recommended I check out the woodpile behind the outhouse if I wanted to find some “Zayante tarantulas” or black widows.  He also kindly alerted me to the presence of a doe and two yearlings nearby.
...some cones on grass.
Some cones on sand...

It wasn’t until I was leaving with my haul of 12 pine cone spiders
(a whopping four of which I collected using the peel method) that I learned that I should have had a permit to collect in this park.  Oops.  Well, at least I had been careful to stay out of the designated sensitive area.

The day's catch was mostly comprised of juvenile salticids and gnaphosids, including several Micaria sp. ant mimics.  But unlike my other Santa Cruz Co. sites to date, which had been teeming with Oecobius sp., I only collected one here.

...had fuzzy palps.
This red and black juvenile salticid...

On the way home I decided to make use of the remaining daylight to cruise the area for potential future collecting sites.  A ponderosa pine-rimmed public baseball diamond snuggled up against a pine woods along Graham Hill Road seemed like the most promising next spot.  Next to that was a gated Quarry Road, which seemed to have potential.  I also followed Whispering Pines Drive through suburban Felton and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were indeed ponderosa pines on that street.  People of the pine-free Pine Flat Road in Bonny Doon, take note!  Sadly, as is the rule in human-dominated landscapes, local landowners had removed virtually every fallen cone, even from the roadway.
An actual pine at the intersection of Whispering Pines and Pinecone streets.

11-Nov-2014 Martin Road, Bonny Doon, California

View across the preserve to a rare unmined sand hill
Far from being put off by our previous long drive and chilly half sample, Clothilde was eager to join in the actual cone processing fun, and I was happy for the help and good company.  By now I’d learned how to better identify ponderosa pine areas in Santa Cruz County from Google Map’s aerial photos, so this time we were able to home in on trees without delay.

Although today’s trees turned out to be in the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, which is closed to collectors, again we were able to collect all the cones we needed from the public side of the fence.  Roadside margins aren’t the most pristine of habitats, but here in the early 21st century they are ubiquitous and so, in my opinion, are not to be sniffed at.  They are an environmental reality of our day.
Road margins, an ecological reality
The deciding fence line.

It was chilly and foggy back at Felton Covered Bridge County Park, where we processed the cones, but this time we’d come prepared (hoodies!).  And the afternoon proved fruitful; together we collected 12 spiders from our sample of 20 cones, all but one spider via the tapping method.  And with the two of us working in tandem, we completed the task in about half the time it would have taken me to do it solo.  This is no small matter, since cone peeling is a very time-consuming method of sampling.

Ebo, with her long, striped legs.
Silver 'n brown Euryopis sp.
Today juvenile Oecobius sp. made up 2/3 of our catch, but we also collected two spiders from my personal "genus of interest", Euryopis sp. (Theridiidae), as well as a female Ebo sp. crab spider (Philodromidae) and a male funnel-weaver, Hololena sp. (Agelenidae)

Clothilde Labrousse, pine cone spider collector.

3-Nov-2014 East Whitlock Road, Mariposa, California

Today's cone source
I now have a field buddy!  Niece Clothilde Labrousse took an interest in my pine cone spiders project and was excited to get a toe into the Sierras, so we set off together to collect a sample in Mariposa.

Our first stop was in the town's eponymous park, Mariposa Park.  There we were happy to scope out some covered picnic tables and basic facilities, but found no open cones under the park’s ponderosas, even those in the untended woods above the park.  Just a few miles further into the Sierras, however, we found a serviceable clump of trees in a privately-owned field that had conveniently dropped cones on the public side of the fence.

The scales of many of the cones were rather poorly opened, and the cones were damp due to recent rain, but the microhabitat is what it is.

Cones on dried grass, pine needles and oak leaves
Back at Mariposa Park, we could hear truants riding skateboards in the nearby skatepark as we set to work processing the cones.  The day turned out to be colder and breezier than predicted, and I hadn’t dressed warmly enough, so rather pathetically we called it a day after processing only 10 cones.  Spider haul for the day: one juvenile gnaphosid, from a peeled cone.

We sprinkled the remainder of the cones at the base of a nearby ponderosa (groundskeepers had been overenthusiastic here, too), and headed home.  We’d only completed a half sample, but the company, the conversation and the scenery made for an enjoyable day.

23-Sept-2014 Mt. Hamilton, California

Location of Mt. Hamilton
Before this field trip I didn’t know that, to the untrained eye, California foothill pine (Pinus sabiniana) resembles ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) when looking at Google Street View.  I can now confirm this phenomenon.  This is the problem with winging it in unknown ecosystems and having no time to seek out local expertise and advice.  Mistakes will be made.

I was looking for ponderosas on Mt. Hamilton.  They were documented there by Griffin & Critchfield (1976) and a 100 year old record in the Calflora database.  I was using Street View to confirm that they were still present as well as accessible from the road.  Most of the trees I'd seen on Street View looked like ponderosa pine to me, but turned out to be foothill pine.  I did ultimately find two ponderosas, but they were terribly spindly and had little in the way of cones to offer.  Live and learn.

View from Lick Observatory atop
Mt. Hamilton
The day wasn’t a total wash, however, since I enjoyed the views from Lick Observatory and found a splendid stand of big-cone pine (Pinus coulteri) just east of the Mt. Hamilton peak.  The gigantic cones (big as my head!) lying in the roadside ditch were definitely harboring spiders, but I didn’t collect specimens since this wasn’t my target tree species.  And can you imagine trying the peel the scales off of one of these monsters?  But now we know: spiders use Pinus coulteri cones, too.

My foot and a P. coulteri cone, each about 25 cm long.

Spider web and exuvium in P. coulteri cone.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Maps of the California Sampling Sites

If you've been reading my California posts and wondering, "Felton?  Where the heck is that?", these maps are for you.  Map 1 shows the location of all of my ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) fallen cone sampling sites in California from 2014.  Note that the sampling sites are divided into two regions, Santa Cruz County to the west and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the east.  Map 2 zooms in on the seven sites in Santa Cruz County, and Map 3 does the same for the two sites in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  Click on any map to enlarge.  Maps were made with GPSVisualizer.

Update: Below the maps, I've added links to my posts about the California sites.

Map 1. Location of 2014 Pinus ponderosa fallen cone sampling sites in California.
Map 2. Location of 2014 Pinus ponderosa cone sampling sites in Santa Cruz Co., California
Map 3. Location of 2014 Pinus ponderosa cone sampling sites in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.

21-Sept-2014 End of Bean Creek Road, Scotts Valley, California

Location of Scotts Valley sample site
A virtual cruise down the main thoroughfares of Scotts Valley via Google Map Street View left me optimistic that I could home in on 20 ponderosa cones in no time. Reality on the ground was another matter.  The modest ponderosa woods along the southeastern side of the intersection of Scotts Valley Dr. and Mt. Hermon Rd. were easily accessible and not posted as private property, yet I found virtually no cones beneath the sizable trees within. Time today was again of the essence since I was only arriving on site in the afternoon and would have the limitation of waning daylight. 

Michael Stipe may have written Stand to be a nonsense bubblegum song, but when I turned a 180 on the disappointing grove and looked up to see this towering lone pine across the street, well, "...think about direction..." started playing on my internal soundtrack.  Loads of open cones on a thin layer of needles dotted the ground beneath this beautiful giant. Jackpot!

Today's cone source
Urban cones
Processing the cones in Felton’s Skypark, I was entertained by the several peewee soccer games underway (“The goal is that way!”) and a first birthday party being held for a boy who seemed to have one too many drunk uncles.  With all this going on I was lucky to find an open picnic table.

I collected 13 spiders from 20 cones, all via the tapping method.  As with the previous sample, which was from an urban section of neighboring Felton, Oecobius sp. juveniles were the most numerous spider present in the Scotts Valley sample.  I also collected a pair of Drassodes neglectus, a juvenile ant mimic (Micaria sp.) and an assortment of other juveniles.  Not bad for what otherwise looked like a barren, lifeless patch of urban dirt.  And I completed my work before dark.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Testing Cone Sampling Efficiency In California

Yesterday in my post about Columbia Historic State Park I mentioned that I was using my cone sampling time in California to test the efficiency of my cone tapping method.  A friend has asked me to elaborate on that.  I am happy to do so.

When I began tapping cones back in 2008, I devised a sampling method on the spot that I've been using ever since.  It consists of simply whacking the cone against the inner wall of my net while holding the net against my thigh, so as to create a solid striking surface.  (If you try this, note that it helps to have coins or keys in your front pocket so that any prickles on the cone scales don't pierce your skin.)  I hold the cone upside-down and as close to its base as possible, and rotate it a few times in the course of giving it numerous whacks.

How good is this method at dislodging all the spiders from a cone?  That's the question I'm trying to answer with these California samples.  Here's how:  After tapping a cone as described above ("tapping method"), collecting the dislodged spiders and clearing the net, I next used pliers to pull the cone scales from the core and let the scales and any remaining spiders fall into the net ("peeling method").  Before searching the debris for spiders, I gave the remaining cone core a few more whacks into the net.

The number of spiders I collect from cones by the tapping method divided by the sum of the "tap" and "peel" spiders gives me a measure of the efficiency of the tapping method.  In equation form:  Tapping Efficiency = T/(T+P).

The peel method may not be a perfect control, since usually only the cone's small basal scales can be completely pulled free from the core.  Larger scales tended to break off near their bases rather than be pulled completely free.  This means that there is a possibility that some spiders may still remain in the cones even after they've been peeled.  However, the peel method has been effective in dislodging additional spiders from previously tapped cones, so it's effective to some degree.

Below are a few photos to help you visualize what I'm describing.

Here's a photo showing what a typical peeled ponderosa pine cone looks like.  Notice the silken spider refugium that I've drawn a circle around.  In the case of this particular cone, tapping it hadn't expelled the spider resting inside that refugium.  Subsequently peeling the cone didn't force the spider out either, but it did make it possible for me to spot it, open it and collect the spider.

This spider refugium and its inhabitant were only visible to me after I peeled the cone.

Peeling occasionally exposed tiny refugia between a cone's tightly-packed basal scales.  I never found any of them inhabited.  Was that because they were vacant before I picked up the cone, or because tapping had already expelled their inhabitants?  The mystery remains.

Tiny, empty refugium exposed by peeling.
 If I've left any questions unanswered or any points unclarified, or if you have ideas for building a better mousetrap, please feel free to drop me a note in the comments.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

12-Sept-2014 West End of East Zayante Road, Felton, California

All you need is one good pine...
The next opportunity to collect came with a time limit; I had to be back in Palo Alto to attend an evening wedding rehearsal dinner.  This meant that a return trip to the foothills of the Sierras was out of the question.  Luckily a few tantalizing marks on Griffin & Critchfield’s ponderosa pine distribution map led me to believe that ponderosas are, or at least were in 1976, present in scant quantities in nearby Santa Cruz County.  A bit of citation mining in Griffin & Critchfield and some googling led me to discover the existence of the Santa Cruz sandhills, an unusual 7,000 acre area of sandy soils supporting a disjunct population of ponderosas.  (Damp soils and redwoods are the norm in this coastal environment.)  Based on those dated resources and a more recent report from The Sandhills Alliance For Natural Diversity, I decided to aim for the town of Felton and cruise the area until I found a productive tree.

...to get a full sample of cones.
The main way into Felton from Route 17 is via Mt. Hermon Road, which online resources indicated would be sprinkled with ponderosas.  Alas, there seemed no safe place to stop and collect along that very busy road.  I thought my worries were over when I found a few sizable ponderosas decorating the edge of the shopping center parking lot where Mt. Hermon Road meets its end at Graham Hill Road, but as happens so frequently with urban pines, most of the cones had been removed by groundskeepers. 

I decided to continue on to the “census-designated place” west of Felton called Bonny Doon, which from my reading seemed a good place to continue prospecting for ponderosas.  And how could a person resist the promise of Pine Flat Road?  Sadly, there were no pines on Pine Flat Road.  I should know by now not to take road names literally, since they seldom reflect the reality of the vegetation they transect.  

The disappointment of the Bonny Doon digression faded quickly, however, after I returned to my starting point in Felton.  There, only a few blocks from the “cleaned-up” shopping center trees, I discovered an impressive lone ponderosa with dozens of fallen cones beneath it (location map).

Oecobius navus female.
Setting up at a picnic table in the nearby and very busy little Felton Covered Bridge County Park, I quickly found this set of cones to be teeming with an unusually high concentration of spiders: 58 spiders from only 21 cones, or 2.8 spiders per cone!  In eastern Washington, I’d found a mean of 0.24 spiders per cone with the maximum from any site of 1.3, so you can imagine my surprise.

I got my first peel spiders today, but only four -- not enough to account for the high overall tally.

The most common species by far was Oecobius navus (Oecobiidae), a presumably naturalized species which comprised about a third of my specimens.  Oecobiids have an anal tubercle fringed with long, curving hairs arranged in a way that is reminiscent of a fountain or a flower.  I love this, not only because it makes the family easy to ID, but who doesn't love a spider butt that encourages poetic description?

Tiny refugium between the cone's
basal scales.
Incidentally, the “human dimension” at this park was quite entertaining.  Besides the usual flow of moms with toddlers stopping by to ask “whatcha doin?” that I encounter in urban parks, I had interesting conversations with a homeless man retrieving multitudes of returnable beer bottles and cans from the groundcover in the woods beyond the picnic tables, as well as with a police woman who pointedly asked me what I was doing.  I suppose my little alcohol vials could look suspicious to an officer of the law, especially given the presence of all those beer cans in the ivy; undoubtedly she was keeping an eye out for public drunkenness and drug dealing. 

Which brings me to the small group of people with the look of hard living about them who I suspect were responsible for many of those discarded returnables.  One of the men informed me quite directly that I was using “their” table and that he wanted to share it. I explained why I wasn’t prepared to move or make room (“delicate biological specimens”), and they grudgingly moved on to a different table.  Happily, several women from the group came back later to find out more about what I was doing, declared it a cool thing, and told me their spider stories, so our interaction ended on a positive note.

Vital equipment: table, cloth, net, pliers, bag o' cones, Diet Pepsi
So many spiders per cone really increased my cone processing time, and so I worked until the last possible moment before I figured that I needed to head back north. Except that I hadn’t counted on the closure of Mt. Hermon Road, the most direct return route, by repair crews! In retrospect I should have continued south into Santa Cruz and picked up Route 17 north there, but I dislike backtracking and Route 9 north via Saratoga looked straightforward enough on the map, so that’s the way I went.  Little did I realize how twisty-windy slow Route 9 is, nor did I anticipate the construction stoppages I encountered along the way, all with less than a gallon of gas left in the tank! Needless to say I was relieved to emerge from the forest in Saratoga virtually within sight of a gas station. The rest of the return trip was uneventful, and we made it to the rehearsal dinner on time and enjoyed it very much. 

* Related: 10-Sept-2014: Columbia Historic State Park, Columbia, California

10-Sept-2014 Columbia Historic State Park, Columbia, California


My home away form home (Palo Alto, CA) in relation to the
theoretical location of local ponderosa pines. Map source.
Finding myself unexpectedly in Palo Alto, California on family business for the final quarter of 2014, I took the opportunity to conduct an experiment on the efficiency of my cone tapping method (more on that here).  Since I've focused most of my west coast sampling on ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) cones, it was the logical species to use.  But where to find them?
A little Googling turned up a map in Griffin & Critchfield (1976) showing that in central Calif., ponderosas are concentrated along the western spine of the Sierra Nevada range.  This made sense, since the Sierras are the southern extension of the ponderosa-rich Cascades range in the Pacific Northwest where I've done so much cone spider sampling.  The map also showed a smattering of trees near the coast in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.  Most intriguing!  But those mysterious coastal ponderosas would have to wait, since intrigue wasn't the only factor driving my choice of sites today.

Columbia Historic State Park

Ponderosa pines bordering
parking lot
Wanting to maximize the likelihood of finding plentiful cones quickly between the morning drop-off and evening pick-up of a family member at the San Jose airport, I selected Sonora as my destination.  Google Map's Street View seemed to confirm Griffin & Critchfield’s old (1976) report that ponderosa pines should be plentiful in and above this Sierra Nevada foothills town.  After consulting a Tuolumne County map obtained from a visitor information office in Sonora, I decided to first explore the nearby Columbia Historic State Park (location map).  As luck would have it, the lower parking lot had it all: ponderosas with lots of open cones on the ground, picnic tables with at least some shade (it was a scorcher of a day), public bathrooms and drinking water.
Spider-filled cones in the ditch.
I filled a paper grocery bag with 35 cones collected from the forest floor and the shallow, Acer macrophyllum leaf-filled ditch separating it from the parking lot, spread my sorting cloth on a picnic table, and proceeded to process the cones.
Among the 13 spiders I collected were two juvenile Euryopis sp. (Theridiidae).  In eastern Washington, Euryopis formosa are only reliably found in ponderosa cones, so this is an interesting find.  One diminutive specimen was lost to a gust of wind, and I had to chase the shade by moving to a new table several times, but otherwise the day went smoothly.

One of several Kibramoa sp. (Plectreuridae)
females present in the cones.
Hurtling back through oak savannas, then the fruit and nut orchards of a dusty San Joaquin valley (lighted highways signs reminded me not to waste water during this period of drought), I stopped in Manteca (what a name for a city!) for a restorative dose of El Pollo Loco before making a bee-line back to Mineta San Jose International Airport just in time to pick up my passenger.

To my knowledge, this blog post constitutes the first time that spiders have been reported in the fallen cone microhabitat in California.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

23-Dec-2014: Documenting Dutch Cone Spiders

Sample site. Click photos to enlarge.
BREAKING: The Netherlands has cone spiders too!  I've long suspected that if spiders use the fallen cone microhabitat in the USA, they probably use it elsewhere, too.  Because why wouldn't they?  But it was just an untested assumption until a recent trip to the Netherlands, during which I was able to squeeze in a few hours of cone sampling.

Corsican pines dropping open cones on Waalsdorpervlakte
My sampling sites were a pair of neighboring groves of exotic Corsican pine (Pinus nigra var. maritimus), apparently planted mid-20th century.  I wasn't crazy about sampling cones of an introduced species, but these were the pines I had access to, so these were the pines I sampled.

The trees were located on the western boundary of Waalsdorpervlakte, located in Wassenaar, Netherlands (Lat. 52.112532, Long. 4.332721).  The Waalsdorpervlakte is part of the dune complex that lies between The Hague and the North Sea.  In the area where I sampled, the dunes have been stabilized by grass, oaks and poplars in addition to the pines.

The fallen cone microhabitat
The cones I sampled were situated on a thin layer of pine needles over fine sand or on grass topped with some combination of oak leaves, poplar leaves and pine needles.  I collected between 10:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. under partly sunny skies, air temp 11-12 C with 25 kph winds from the SSE gusting over 35 kph (The wind was making nearby radio antennae "sing".).

Two spiders from one cone. For scale, the inner diameter
of the vial is 8 mm.
Corsican pine cones may be tiny (~ 5 cm long), but they weren't too small for Dutch spiders!  I tapped 20 cones into an old pillow case (never leave home without your net...) and got 9 spiders.  Two cones contained two spiders each, five cones contained one spider each, and twelve cones contained no spiders.  Cones also often contained fine sand, tiny flying insects, mites, woodlice and the occasional beetle.

Not knowing the local regulations on collecting invertebrates, to say nothing about getting them past airport security and USA customs, I opted to just photo-document the specimens as best I could, then return the live animals to their cones.  This means that I can't be certain of their identities beyond noting the presence of crab spiders and what look like dictynids.  However, it was enough to confirm that there are cone spiders here.  I hope this discovery will inspire local spider enthusiasts to start tapping conifer cones!
Beware armed storks!

Incidentally, although I was collecting in a country where people don’t own guns for self-defense, gunfire serenaded my collecting adventure.  It turns out that there’s a shooting club just down the trail from my collecting site.  Other than that, passers-by were friendly and inquisitive and either understood and accepted my pidgin Dutch explanation of what I was doing, or tactfully retreated from the crazy lady.  Either way, nobody interfered with my work.

Dutch Keywords: spinnen, spin, krabspinnen, Den Haag, dennenboom, Nederland, dennenappel, Meijendel