Spiders and Snakes

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Fri Feb 25 17:55:47 EST 2000

Mark shared some of the hardships.  We really need to be reminded
periodically.  Some years ago (mid-1970s) Stuart Keith and I climbed the
Santa Marta mountains in eastern Colombia.  Climbed means, we left our
air conditioned (sea-level) hotel at 5am and drove our air-conditioned
car (at least it wasn't an automatic transmission) up to the top of the
road---birding and butterflying along the way---, reaching our
destination at about 9000' by 10:30 am. 
	Only 50 years earlier an ornithological expedition had travelled that
route.  It took them two weeks to get to the 7000' level and one of them
nearly died en route.  
	Perhaps they had more fun in other ways. 


Mark Walker wrote:
> 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
> Lepidopterists.
> 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

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