Species Identification Ain’t Easy

I may have horrified some of you by posting this giant spider photo. And really, folks, this is nearly life-size — they make ’em big in upstate New York. So, sorry for any heeby-jeebies I just interwebbed over to you.

However, when you own a place in the country, you quickly learn that spiders (for the most part) are your friends — they eat all the other vastly more annoying insects flying in your home, and they basically try to stay out of the way. They’re WAY better to have around than ticks, mosquitoes or flies. I feel really guilty whenever I smoosh a spider, and I say a little “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” each time I flush one down the john.

Most of the time, whether scooping up one to meet its maker, or admiring one in more wild environs, I have no idea what sort of spider I’m looking at, like this big fellow above. Some of you may be tempted to say “Well, it’s a daddy long legs!” Yes, it probably is. But there are more than 6,400 species of spider in that order that encompasses “daddy long legs.” Yeah, so…for now, the mystery will remain, until I locate a really good local insect book. (We did buy books for birds, wildflowers and mushrooms.)

Other photos of flora/fauna that remain nameless to me:

Random mushrooms growing on a tree trunk. We want to know more about our all many mushrooms. Well OK, we really just want to know about our edible mushrooms.

We got all excited when these popped up along our creek in the early spring, thinking they were delicious ramps. But no. We’re just not sure what they are (click to see larger pic).

This is probably a slimy salamander. He flew out of a wreath my friend Connie was making in our front yard. While she screamed in terror, I ran for the camera.

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