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Scorpions and spiders near Alto Lucero 1

Sunday, December 10, 2006 | 1 comment

Today we had originally planned to visit the town of Coyolillo again. So we took the bus to Plaza Cristal, one of the several shopping centers in Xalapa, but also nearby one can take a taxi "colectivo" or a bus to Coyolillo. We prefer to take a colectivo, but since the driver waits until there are 4 or even 5 people going into the direction of Actopan it can take some time. And today it looked like it was going to take quite some time also since the taxi available was going to Alto Lucero. So we decided on going to Alto Lucero instead, and bought some things to eat and drink to take with us. When the bus to Alto Lucero arrived we decided not to wait any longer for other people to arrive willing to take the taxi, and took the bus.

A part of a church in the town of Alto Lucero.
A part of a church in the town of Alto Lucero.

The bus took quite some time to get there, but the trip was beautiful, with impressive views. The road winded along several hills, and after some time we could look down into a canyon on our right. We finally arrived in Alto Lucero, and started our walk.

A small park in the town of Alto Lucero.
A small park in the town of Alto Lucero.

Esme picked a direction, and we tried to get out of the town, and into nature. On our way we passed a small, but beautiful looking park. Close to the entrance I noticed a flowering Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), so I took a close-up photo of a flower.

Flower of the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).
Flower of the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).

We took a road to our right, and crossed another road. The road became a dirt track, and looked like it ended in a gate. To our left we saw a small track between two meadows bordered with barbed wire. So we decided to follow the track. After some time the track became very muddy and dirty with animal droppings so we had to be a bit creative to avoid most of the mess.

Esme avoiding a bad part on a small track.
Esme avoiding a bad part on a small track.

The small track ended in a gate with a big hole. And since we fitted right through and no one was around to ask permission (which in our experience is always given), we entered the pasture and continued our walk. After several minutes we reached the "end" of the pasture: a steep slope. We could see the canyon and the view was magnificent, so I took a picture.

Landscape near Alto Lucero.
Landscape near Alto Lucero.

We continued our walk to the right, following the edge of the pasture and then I stepped over barbed wire, and Esme crawled under to enter the next pasture. I saw several large stones, and looked under one. A small black window spider (Latrodectus species) was using the stone as its hiding place.

Black widow spider (Latrodectus species).
Black widow spider (Latrodectus species).

After a short walk I noticed another spider we see very often on our walks this time of the year: the Nepilia clavipes (a golden silk orb-weaver, also commonly called banana spider). The adult female is quite big and looks very impressive.

Female Nephila clavipes (Golden orb-weaver).
Female Nephila clavipes (Golden orb-weaver).

However, Golden orb-weavers are quite harmless and will only bite when severely provoked. This specimen had made her web in a big cactus plant. The cactus itself was flowering, and so I took a few close-up photo of a flower.

Cactus flowering.
Cactus flowering.

Again we changed direction, and again to the right. There were more stones around, but most were either too big, or too deep into the ground. I noticed one good candidate however, and when I flipped the stone over, I saw the first scorpion of that day, an adult female Centruroides gracilis (Florida bark scorpion).

Adult female Centruroides gracilis.
Adult female Centruroides gracilis.

The scorpion sat quite motionless for some time on what was the underside of the stone it was hiding under. I was able to take several photos before it decided that enough was enough, and it moved under the upturned stone.

Centruroides gracilis habitat.
Centruroides gracilis habitat.

Esme came over to have a look at my find, which would become visible when I carefully moved the stone back into place. And when I did, we noticed another scorpion, a juvenile Centruroides gracilis, probably 3nd instar.

Juvenile Centruroides gracilis on my hand.
Juvenile Centruroides gracilis on my hand.

The young ones of this species move lightning fast and are easily to overlook because contrary to the behavior of the adults, which don't move the first minute or so, the little ones run immediately. I once got stung by a juvenile Centruroides gracilis, which hurt for just 7 minutes, because the little one was in the grass in front of a turned over stone, and I rested a knuckle just on top of it to have a closer look at the uncovered ground.

This blog entry continues in Scorpions and spiders near Alto Lucero 2.

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