Ant Mimic Jumping Spider

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Working in my yard this weekend, a came across this tiny, yet fascinating invertebrate. It’s very small size and body shaped more like ant than a spider, at first glance, it may be difficult to tell that this creature is a spider.

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It walks with its front pair of legs raised in the air as if they were antennae, making it tricky to identify it as a spider when first counting legs. The resemblance to ants is a defense against predators. Many types of ants are pungent to taste and are unlikely to become food for larger predators.

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Ant Mimic Spiders often live near ant hills or nests to benefit from the ant’s unsavory reputation for tasting bad. They can be found anywhere ants are found: fields, lawns, gardens, woods, on trees and under stones.

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The Ant Mimic Jumping Spider is one of the few species in genus Myrmarachne that is found outside the tropics. Its species name, formicaria means “ant-like” in Latin.

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Atlantic Ribbed Mussel

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While checking out a tiny cove in Rye, New York, I came across several examples of this bivalve that lives in low, regularly flooded marshes and mud flats.

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The Atlantic Ribbed Mussel grows 2 to 4 inches in length. Its glossy, oval, grooved shell varies in color from olive or yellowish-brown to black. The shell’s interior is iridescent blue to silvery white.

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These creatures are are filter feeders. During high tide, they open their shells slightly to draw in water, filtering out algae and other particles.

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They attach themselves to rocks and other surfaces and clumps of mussels can be found half-buried in the mud among marsh grasses.

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Mussels perform an important environmental function of filtering water entering marshes during each tidal cycle. This helps clean and clarify the water.

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An Atlantic Ribbed Mussel’s age can be determined by counting dark growth rings on the shell. Mussels typically live 10 – 15 years, but more advanced ages are not uncommon.

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Asian Shore Crab

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While visiting New York last week, I flipped a few rocks along the East Coast and encountered quite a few of these small crustaceans; they were often found in dense aggregations.

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Adults are small, measuring about an inch and a half in shell width. They have a squarish shell and light and dark bands on their legs.

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Though native to the western Pacific Ocean from Russia to Hong Japan, it is likely that Asian Shore Crabs were discharged at harbors in the United States as larvae from the ballast water of a cargo ship.

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This creature is not a picky eater, and feeds on a wide range of plants and animals. It can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. These characteristics help to make it successful in areas where it is not native.

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Although undeniably cute, Asian Shore Crabs have displaced both large and small native crabs along the East Coast.

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Walking along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, I noticed this distinctive white, spherical flower with needle-like projections growing on a shrub.


This plant is a member of the Coffee Family and is native to eastern and southern North America. Like the Coffee Plant, its leaves are glossy green and up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. It’s unusual flowers are a source of nectar, attracting butterflies, bees, moths, hummingbirds and 20-something other species of birds.


Buttonbush can be found in wet habitats such as marshes, shorelines, ditches and areas near the rivers and ponds. It is one of the first plants that will appear in areas destroyed by floods.


This is multi-branched, round-shaped shrub typically reaches 6 to 12 feet in height. Its older trunk bark is attractively diamond-patterned with lattice-like raised ridges. Its fruit is a reddish-brown, round-shaped capsule filled with two seeds. It ripens during September and October. Ducks and other waterfowl eat Buttonbush seeds.


If you come across a Buttonbush in bloom and patiently observe the activity around it, you’ll be likely to see spiders, bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and perhaps even a hummingbird buzzing around its flowers.


You’ll understand very quickly why this plant is so important native wildlife and our environment.

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Mountain Chorus Frog

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This amphibian is native to Ohio, yet I have yet to find it in my home state. I have encountered it in West Virginia and Kentucky though.

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Mountain Chorus Frogs are small (1 to 1-1/4 inches long) and can be distinguished from Ohio’s similar Western Chorus Frog by the presence of two dark, curved stripes on the back which look like reversed parentheses.

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They can be heard calling in shallow water near forests or in wooded ponds, typically from February to April. Their call resembles the sound made by rubbing one’s finger over the teeth of a hard plastic comb.

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Outside of breeding season that can be found on damp, wooded hillsides often quite some distance from standing water. It’s always fun to come across this elusive little creature that goes about its life largely unnoticed by humans.

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