Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mason County treasures

And I don't mean topaz, which is what Mason County is known for. Last week, we visited the Bar M Ranch in the county as part of a magazine assignment of mine. While hiking along a dry creek bed, I stooped down for a closer look at the rocks and just happened to spot something odd...a tiny structure with a pebble for a roof. See it above?
This was what I saw first, just a dry creek bed. Then I squatted down and looked closer...

There was a small community of these tiny houses.

After we got home, I posted some images to Then I emailed entomologist Mike Quinn and asked his opinion. He recommended that I check out Tracks & Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates. Cool resource so I bought a copy! THEN I emailed co-author Charley Eiseman, who wrote me back: 

"Like Lynette [on Bugguide], my first thought was of a trapdoor (or maybe folding-door) spider. That said, I've never heard of them using pebbles for lids. It would be easy to determine if a spider is involved by prying off one of the pebbles to see if the turret is silk-lined. If there is no silk inside, it would be interesting to know whether there are any of these outside the creek bed. I wonder if some aquatic creature could be responsible. If you like, I'd be happy to make a blog post about this mystery to see if any of my readers recognize it. Let me know, and if you have any additional photos or observations, those would be good to include too."

YES, I wrote back, please do share my images on your blog, BugTracks! He hasn't yet, but I'm watching. Stay tuned! Curious minds want to know!


Rock rose said...

Well spotted. I can't wait to find out what they are.

TexasDeb said...

You have such a sharp eye. How wonderful to have discovered this tiny kingdom of towers. I'm with Jenny - can't wait to hear what purpose they serve, and who the builders are.

ShepDawg said...

Possibly Caddisfly larvae. They also use a silk that is secreted from glands in their jaws. Tricoptera is the order. Some species occur in temporary pools. I'll do a bit more research. A fascinating find. But, could be some type of Arachnid.

Unknown said...

These are called a hoodoos and are formed by eroding everything not under the rock. Hoodoo seems to usually refer to the larger ones, but these are formed the same way.

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