Spiders and Snakes

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Tue Feb 15 08:20:22 EST 2000

I've shared many of the hazards associated with butterflying in remote
locations before, perhaps in an attempt to offset the image of the wimpy
butterfly collector.  When I think of what it took to travel to some of
these locations back in the second and third decades of last century, it
truly amazes me.  Driving in cars without air conditioning on unpaved roads
- with little in the way of conveniences (no AM/PM handy to refill the 32
oz. soda cup).  The clothing was more uncomfortable.  The locations more
inaccessible.  These were a studly group - and I'm talking about the female

So here I am in So. Texas, ready for more biting mosquitoes and crawling
ticks (BTW, what's a fever tick?).  While tracking some Phaon Crescentspots
in Armstrong, I feel this incredibly sharp pain in my middle left finger.
What, a bee?  A wasp?  A red ant?  No - it's a spider, about the size of
tick.  It's pale yellow, and has elongated front legs.  And it's just
created the most painful spider bite I've ever experienced.  Apparently, it
didn't like being caught up in my net.  When it detected fleshly contact, it
gave it to me.

Now, two days later, I think my finger is going to fall off.

This will seriously hinder my salutations to courteous drivers who
acknowledge my superior drive-and-watch-the-fauna maneuvering.

O.K., so I'm just kidding about the falling off part.  It's swollen, though,
and constantly reminding me of it's donor.  I'm sure I'll survive (although
I was tempted to at least document the event, just in case someone finds me
two days from now lumped over in the rental car on the side of some
abandoned road).  Speaking of abandoned roads - we butterfliers do put
ourselves into some rather vulnerable positions.  My wife has often remarked
that if something were to happen to me, they wouldn't find my body for days
- maybe weeks (heck, maybe never).

Anyway, I'm certainly not whining.  I love this part of it.  The swollen
fingers, the itchy ankles, the abandoned roads - that one butterfly moment
that defines and justifies the excursion - it's great.  I'm afraid I can't
hold a candle to the old timers, though.  When I see specimen dates like
1913, and we're talking about the Mojave desert, I'm in awe.

Mark Walker
teaching in Houston, TX

More information about the Leps-l mailing list