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NatureWILD Magazine for Young Naturalists in British Columbia

Volume 15 Issue 2 2014 A Cellar Spider. Photo by Sven Siegmund.

the long bodied cellar spider

FOSSILS All About Water

Invasive Species

“Young Naturalists Observe and Conserve�

Inside... 3 Invasive Species

6 Fossils 8 Robin and the Ants 10 Water 12 cellar


14 Ask Al 15 NatureWILD NEWS 16 Spider-word Questions? Comments? President, YNC Kristine Webber, Executive Director

Hello,Young Naturalists It’s June and school is almost out. Soon you will be able to be outdoors every day and have fun exploring nature wherever you may be. Some of you will be lucky enough to take a trip – if you live on the coast perhaps you will go inland and camp in a provincial park. If you live among forests and lakes, perhaps you’ll go and explore the seashore. Perhaps you’ll stay home and plant a garden for wildlife. Have a wonderful summer, take lots of photos and send some to me to put in NatureWILD NEWS. Have a great summer! Daphne Solecki, Honorary President

YNC is an exciting nature discovery and environmental action

program that invites young people ages 5-12 years to have fun discovering nearby nature on Explorer Days with local experts, learn about native wildlife and plants in NatureWILD Magazine and take part in environmental actions to protect their habitat with the Action Awards program. For more information:

Tammy Keetch, Clubs Coordinator

Thank you to our sponsors and

supporters who share our vision that all children be connected with nature.

Karina Russell, Membership and Office Coordinator NatureWILD Editorial Committee Content Editor: Daphne Solecki Production Editor: Monica Belko Editorial Assistant: Ruth Foster Contributor: Al Grass



RR Donnelley

1620 Mt. Seymour Rd. North Vancouver, BC V7G 2R9 2

We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia

ISSN: 1492-7241 NatureWILD is printed on SFI certified paper by Benwell Atkins an RR Donnelley Company,Vancouver.

Invasive Species What are they?

By Sue Staniforth

Where do they come from?

What are ‘Native Species’?

Native species are plants and animals that evolved in an area and are part of the natural ecosystem.

What are ‘Non-native Species’?

Non-native species are plants and animals from other parts of the world that were brought to BC over the years. Some non-native species are also ‘invasive species’.

Why Are They a Problem?

Some non-native species are called invasive because they spread quickly, pushing aside native species and taking up their habitat. Many of them cause a lot of harm, as there are no natural predators or diseases to keep them under control, as there were in the places they came from. Turn the page to check out some invasive plants and animals... Have you seen any in your neighbourhood?

How Did They Get Here?

Some invasive species got here on wind and ocean currents, while others were carried by birds or other animals. However, most were actually brought here by humans. Early settlers who came to BC brought along animals and their favourite plants for food and to remind them of their home places. Many of these plants were useful and now make up some of our main food crops: for example, wheat was brought to the Red River area from Scotland and tomatoes from South America were brought by the Spanish.

A Bullfrog. Photo by Alan D. Wils.

Are there invaders in your back yard?? You bet there are! Check out the next issue of


where we’ll explore what you can do to help battle the invaders! Become an Invader Ranger!


Purple Loosestrife Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) was brought to Canada from Europe, probably by gardeners and beekeepers who liked its showy purple flowers. It spreads rapidly: one plant can produce 2.7 million seeds a year!

A close-up of Purple Loosestrife. The flowers are bright purple. Photo by L. Scott.

Loosestrife has invaded wetlands, replacing native plants and harming wildlife that depend on wetlands for food, nesting, and breeding. A major concern in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, and the Kootenay regions.

Common Burdock

Many Purple Loosestrife plants growing in a meadow. Photo by L. Haugen.

Common Burdock (Arctium minus) Many of us have had to pull their burs off our clothes, pets and shoes! Settlers brought burdock over from Europe as a medicinal herb - its roots were used to treat dry skin conditions, sore throats and colds. Unfortunately, the hooklike burs – each containing 40 seeds - hitch rides on passing people and animals, spreading the plant widely. The burs injure livestock by sticking to their faces, eyes and inside their mouths; they also get into hay so animals can’t eat it because of the prickles. (One good thing about burdock – their clinging burs were the inspiration for Velcro!) A major concern in the Okanagan, Thompson, Cariboo, Omineca, and Peace regions.

Spotted Knapweed A close-up of Spotted Knapweed. Photo by J. Leekie.


Knapweed on a Four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle. Photo by L. Scott.

A close-up of Common Burdock. Photo by Alberto Salguero.

Burdock burs on a cow. Photo by L. Scott.

Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea biebersteinii) likely arrived in BC accidentally, mixed with crop seeds or hay from Europe. Knapweed has bitter leaves so domestic and wild animals won’t graze on it, and its roots produce chemicals that don’t allow other plants to grow, pushing out range grasses that elk and deer rely on. People unintentionally spread knapweed around, as seeds get caught on cars, trains, and logging trucks, and hide in hay and with other seeds. A major concern in the Omineca, Peace River, Kootenay, Okanagan, Thompson, and Cariboo regions.


A Bullfrog. Photo by R. Ottens.

The Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) is native to eastern North America and was introduced to BC by people wanting to ‘farm’ it for its meaty legs. Bullfrogs are greedy predators and eat many native frogs and toads, as well as insects and even small mammals, snakes, and ducklings! Bullfrogs are found through much of the Lower Mainland,Vancouver Island, and the South Okanagan.

European Fire Ant

A Bullfrog. Photo by S. Price.

European Fire Ants (Myrmica rubra) came to North America from Eurasia, probably in infested plants. They have spread across several provinces, including BC.

Fire ants. Photo by S. Bauer.

Named for their ‘fire’ like sting, they will attack aggressively if disturbed, biting people, pets and making yards unusable! Their nests are difficult to spot, and they are very hard to get rid of. A concern in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Smallmouth Bass

Fire ant bites.

A Smallmouth Bass. Photo by M. Herborg.

Despite the name, smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) have a large mouth to match an even larger appetite! Anglers brought them to BC, releasing them into lakes and rivers for sport fishing. They are fierce predators however, out-competing native fish like Rainbow and Cutthroat trout for food and territory, and eating many native fish, young snakes and turtles, amphibians and even small mammals! They have spread through much of BC, from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan and Cariboo. Sue Staniforth, BSc, MSc is the Education & Outreach Coordinator for the Invasive Species Council of BC, a provincial charity that works to prevent and manage the negative impacts caused by the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species.



Article and Figures 1,2,3 by Nick Ward, (age 14), YNC Burke Mountain

A trilobite fossil. Photo by Kevin Walsh.

What are they? How are they formed? What do they tell us? Fossils are the remains of ancient life that have been turned to stone.They come from plants and animals that died thousands or millions of years ago. Usually only the hard parts are preserved in the fossil, because the soft parts rot away before they can be fossilized.

How do fossils form?

Fossils from animals are created when the hard parts of a dead animal are replaced by minerals. To become a fossil, the animal must have been buried soon after death before it rotted away. (see Figure 1, section A). Over thousands of years, the sediment (fine earth) that covered the organism is compressed into stone. (see Figure 1, section B). The soft parts of the organism like the skin, muscles and other organs will most likely have completely decayed; the bones are all that is left and eventually they are slowly replaced by minerals. (see Figure 1, section C). If the soft parts didn’t rot earlier on, they can also become part of the fossil but this is very rare. (see Figure 1, section D) With plants the process is different. For plants to fossilize, they need to be buried very quickly because they are all soft tissue. Most of the time the soft tissue isn’t replaced by minerals as with a bone; instead, a carbon imprint is left on the rock. Later, the rock around the fossils may erode (wear away), leaving the fossil imprint exposed to be discovered. (see Figure 2). Figure 1

Figure 2


What is the fossil record and what can it teach us?

Fossils record the history of the earth from the beginning of life to the present day. We can learn a lot from the fossil record such as - what forms of life existed thousands of years ago and how they evolved, major events of the past, and the behaviour of ancient animals. The main thing that the fossil record can teach us is about the animals and plants that lived in the past. We can learn what they looked like, where they lived, and in what time period. We can also learn about how ancient creatures evolved. For example, by looking at ancient fossils, we can see how over millions of years, some fish grew legs, lost their gills and evolved into amphibians. Fossils also tell us about major events of the past. When we see a point in the fossil record where most of the species that we were seeing before are suddenly gone, this tells us that there was a mass extinction (die off). If we find a large heap of fossils this could mean that there was a flood that piled them together. We can also learn something about the behaviour of ancient animals from fossils. If we find lots of different types of fossilized footprints leading to and away from a certain place, we can guess that that was a water hole. We can look at fossilized droppings to tell what the animal ate. If we find an animal very close to its nest, it may suggest that it was taking care of its young. These are some examples of things we have learned from fossils. Figure 3

How can you distinguish fossils from other rocks?

Fossils are technically rocks, but there are ways to tell if the rock is a fossil. If the rock you find is embedded in another rock, examine it carefully. If it is in sedimentary rock (sandstone, limestone, etc.) it could be a fossil. If it is in igneous or metamorphic rock, it is definitely not a fossil. This is because igneous rocks are formed from cooling lava and any dead organisms buried by the lava would burn up. Metamorphic rocks are made when rocks are put under large amounts of heat and pressure until they are bent and folded and crushed. Fossils or dead organisms would not survive that either. Shape and texture can help tell if a rock is a fossil. If it looks like a part of a plant or animal, then likely it is a fossil. Some rocks are obviously fossils. With bones, if it is not an entire bone, look inside where the break is. Fossilized bones are often porous inside. Porous means that it has lots of bubbles of air surrounded by bone, kind of like an aero bar. (see Figure 3).

Fossil Sites in BC

There are many places in BC where fossils have been found such as: 1. The Burgess Shale - Ancient invertebrate sea life fossils (located near the border between BC and Alberta)


2. Tumbler Ridge - Dinosaurs and plant fossils (north-east of Prince George) 3. The McAbee fossil beds - Plant and animal fossils from about 10 million years after the dinosaurs (located in the interior of the province) 4. Driftwood Canyon - Ancient fish and insect fossils (near the centre of BC) Nick Ward says “I have been interested in fossils my whole life. I was very interested in dinosaurs as a young kid, and started learning about fossils. I went to the Royal Tyrell Museum in 2005. Over the years I have collected a large amount of fossils and I remain interested in them.�


Robin and the Ants Robin was building her nest on a mossy branch of an old maple tree. “It’s going to be the biggest, best nest ever!” she said. She was looking on the ground for some dried grass when she saw a small ant carrying a pine needle.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Building a nest,” it said.

“It must be a very tiny nest,” said Robin. “What a cute little ant, building a teeny-weeny nest for its itty-bitty ant eggs,” she said, “How cute is that?” “If you say so,” said the ant, “But I must be off. I have work to do.” And it carried on its way. Later, as she picked up some soft moss to line her nest, Robin saw another small ant carrying a piece of grass.

An American Robin. Photo by Mark Belko.

“And what are you doing?” she asked.

“Building a nest,” it said. Robin laughed. “That’s so sweet. Another dear little ant building another teeny-weeny nest for its ittybitty ant eggs,” she said. “Aaaah!”

“If you say so,” said the ant. “But I must be on my way, I have work to do.” And off it went.

“There,” said Robin, lining her nest with soft moss. “Finished. I don’t think I’ll see a better one. It’s certainly the biggest one around here,” she said, remembering the ants. She saw another small ant, carrying a leaf this time. “And what are you doing,” she said with a smile. “As if I couldn’t guess.”


“Building a nest,” it said.

“Oooh!” said Robin. “So many little ants building teeny-weeny nests for their itty-bitty ant eggs. That’s adorable!” “If you say so,” said the ant, “But I have work to do.” And off it went. “I must see what their darling little nests look like,” said Robin, so she followed the small ant. She saw lots of other ants carrying pine needles, bits of grass and leaves. “Why, there must be lots and lots of tiny little ants’ nests,” she said. Then, in the middle of a clearing, she saw a large mound of pine needles, grass and leaves.

“Oh,” said Robin.

An ant carrying a leaf. Photo by Clinton and Charles Robertson.

The ants weren’t making lots of little teen-weeny nests – they were making one huge nest instead. Robin’s nest wasn’t the biggest and best in the wood after all. This was much bigger than hers. It seemed to be moving, as thousands of ants swarmed all over it, building and mending.

“Do you like our nest?” said one ant.

“But it’s so ... big!” said Robin.

“We’ve been working together to build it,” said another ant.

“We have the biggest nest in the whole wood!” said all the ants together. “Just because we are small doesn’t mean that we can’t build something big,” they said. “If you say so,” said the Robin in a small voice. “Excuse me, I must be on my way,” she said. And off she flew back to her nest, feeling very foolish.

From WILD TIMES, a publication of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, adapted with permission.


Amazing Facts about the


on Planet Earth! From outer space Earth looks blue because almost three quarters of the planet is covered in water, most of it in the oceans.

We usually count five Oceans – Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean – but in fact all the oceans of the earth are connected and are truly one “World Ocean”.

The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean. At its widest it is five times as wide as the moon! (see diagram to the left).The Pacific Ocean is deeper than Mount Everest is tall (Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth). The world still has as much water on land, sea and air as it did 1,000,000 years ago. Water can be powerful. When it rushes along in flooding rivers and in avalanches it can take everything with it – earth, rocks, trees, bridges and buildings. Glaciers do the same, only very slowly.


Even when it isn’t moving, water can be powerful. When water which is sitting in cracks in soil or rocks or in walls freezes, it becomes solid and expands at the same time, so it can shatter rocks and walls into pieces.

Water can change. It is the only substance found on earth that naturally comes in three forms – solid (snow, ice), liquid (rivers, lakes, seas) and gas (water vapour or steam). Water on earth and sea evaporates into vapour and goes up into the cold upper atmosphere. There it condenses back into water and comes back to earth as rain or snow. It is pure and fresh when it first falls but on the way down it can pick up the dirt that we have sent into the sky. Ocean water can freeze like fresh water, but at lower temperatures. Fresh water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius but seawater freezes at about -1.9 degrees Celsius because of the salt in it. When seawater freezes, however, the ice contains very little salt because only the water part freezes. This ice can be melted down to use as drinking water. The polar ice cap at the North Pole is a giant slab of frozen ocean water, but at the South Pole there is land under the ice, so most of the ice comes from fallen snow.

gaseous water = clouds/water vapour

solid water = snow and ice liquid water = ocean This iceberg photo includes the three forms of water - solid, liquid and gas. Photo by Kim Hansen.

Water can float on water. As water freezes its molecules expand so that solid water (ice) ends up lighter than liquid water. This is why ice can float. When a sheet of ice forms on the surface of the lake, it actually keeps the water below warmer and stops it from freezing. If ice could not float, it would sink. Rivers and lakes would freeze from top to bottom. Nothing that lives in lakes could survive the winter.

For land-based life the most important kind of water is fresh water, but of all the water that exists on Earth only about 2% is fresh water. The rest is in the ocean and is salty. Imagine you could take all the water in the world and put it in two glasses, one for fresh water and one for salt water, it would look like this...

98% of water on Earth is salty.

2% of water on Earth is freshwater.

But only some fresh water is actually drinkable – more than half of the fresh water is locked up in glaciers and icecaps, or is undrinkable in other ways. So you can see that fresh water for people, wildlife and plants is very, very precious. In many places on Earth there is not enough fresh water for people, animals and plants. Other places may get too much water all at once and suffer from flooding. In Canada, most of us are lucky enough to get clean drinkable water from the local water supply, but even in BC there are places where people must boil their water before drinking it. 11

A Cellar Spider. Photo by Olaf Leillinger.

Domestic Denizens Part 1 This spider really does like to live in cellars and poorly lit basements. Its web is a large, loose tangle of non-sticky threads that spread out in all directions.The web acts as a prey detection system and a place for attacking any insects or spiders that walk on it.You might first notice the spider by the rapid shaking of its web when disturbed.

the long bodied cellar spider (Pholcus phalangiodes) By Brian Herrin

Cellar Spider close-up. Photo by Olaf Leillinger.

The Cellar Spider has very long thin legs compared to other spiders. Its legs are many times longer than its body, so it is sometimes called a “daddy longlegs spider”, but it is not related to the other “daddy longlegs,” which are Harvestmen. The Cellar Spider has eight eyes that wrap around the front of the ‘face’ in a distinctive 3-2-3 pattern.

The Cellar Spider is not dangerous as its jaws are too small to penetrate our skin and its venom does not seem poisonous to humans. However, it is very good at killing and eating other spiders that are dangerous to humans such as the Black Widow and the Hobo Spider (both found in BC). One might say that this spider is a ‘spider-killing specialist’. It raids other spider webs, steals any prey it finds and ends by killing the owner with its speedy attack! Cellar Spiders were originally tropical outdoor spiders but have become synanthropes (syn = with and anthropes = humans) and now live alongside humans in heated houses and buildings. If a Cellar Spider’s web is disturbed, the spider rapidly flexes its legs in a circular motion and seems to disappear into a spinning blur, either to avoid predators or to entangle prey more firmly.


A Cellar Spider can mate and produce eggs at any time of the year. The female places about 25-30 tiny round eggs in a thin silk sac. The eggs can easily be seen and counted in this sac as the female carries it around in her chelicerae (jaws) for a few weeks until they hatch. The spiderlings then climb on ‘mom’ and ride around for a few days until they have all dropped off and scattered. So, don’t fear this Domestic Denizen. It is very helpful in ridding your house of other spiders that are both larger and more dangerous, as well as other insects.

A Cellar Spider with pillbug prey. Photo by Daniel Ullrich, Threedots

try this If you find a female carrying her egg cluster you can gently put her in a clean jar, with holes punched in the lid. Lie the jar on its side so she can begin to make a little web until her young hatch. Then she’ll look very fuzzy as she will be covered in tiny spiderlings. Every few days, drop in a 2 cm square of crumpled paper towel soaked in water. This is enough to keep the spiders happy until time to carefully release them. When you have had a good look at her and her young, open the jar and place it in a garage. There she will escape to make another web and her young will spread out to other good spots. Killing other spiders and unwelcome visitors is a tough job but some spider has to do it! The Long Bodied Cellar Spider is the one for you!

A female Cellar Spider and her spiderlings. Photo by Udo Schröter.

A female Cellar Spider with an egg cluster. Photo by Rob Partington


Have a Nature Question?


Al Grass has worked as a career park naturalist and ranger throughout BC. Now he is a well-known nature tour leader and photographer. Al especially likes birds, insects and spiders.

What colours can animals be and why? -Eva This is an excellent question and one that has been studied by scientists for many years. When scientists talk about animals, it might surprise you to learn that birds, reptiles, amphibians – even spiders and insects all are called animals. To most people however, animal means the furry kind (mammals). There are many reasons for animal colours; here are a few to think about: • Warning colours – like a skunk. It wants to be noticed because it can spray its enemies with smelly stuff – and it doesn’t want any person or animal to forget it! • Camouflage – makes an animal hard (or impossible) to see. For example, a baby deer (fawn) has lighter spots on its brown coat which makes it look like the sun shining through leaves on the forest floor - it’s very effective. Birds like the Brown Creeper look like tree bark. There are insects that look like bird droppings, dead leaves or tree bark. Colours can make you hard to see so that: • Your enemy can’t find you • If you are a predator – you can sneak up on your dinner without being seen • Warning – like a skunk (smelly), wasp (sting), millipede (bad taste). Colour in animals is an important part of nature’s plan, and animals use it in many ways.

Update: Eva was sent her reward of rite-in-rain notebook and pencil, and she wrote back “Thank you so much! I love the prize and I’ll make a kit out of it. The kit will need the notebook, the pencil, a pencil sharpener, a nature book about plants, a magnifying glass and a bag to put them all in. Love from Eva. Thank you again”.

We are proud that YNC participated in the WetlandsLIVE program in Boundary Bay, a great project for students in the United States, Canada and Mexico, which was awarded the 2013 National Blue-Winged Teal Award from the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The NAWMP felt that the WetlandsLIVE programs “represented a powerful educational tool for wetlands conservation at an international level. The National Blue-winged Teal Award recognizes partners whose activities at the national or regional level result in substantial benefits to waterfowl, other wetland-associated migratory bird populations or wetlands habitats, at the national scale as a one-time, periodic or ongoing effort.”

2014 Spring: Rebecca, Rachel and Melissa (Williams Lake) earned their YNC Caps.


Carter (Cowichan Home Learners), Niko and Teo (Nelson), Hannah and Lila (Prince George) and Natalia (Eastern Fraser Valley) also earned their YNC caps. Isabelle (Vancouver), Elyan and Katriel (Prince George) earned their YNC T-shirts. Congratulations to all of you!


W r e I D u t a N NEWS

Amazing Nature Note Books from YNC Eastern Fraser Valley


Al Grass Award for photography - winner Emily Fearn

Emily Darion’s notebook is made with paper bags so he can store special objects in it.


Spider-word BC is home to many different species of spiders. See if you can find them in this wordsearch...


Next issue... Invasive Species - Part 2


Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to YNC, 1620 Mt. Seymour Rd N.Vancouver, BC V7G 2R9

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Have any comments or questions? Email the YNC at

NatureWILD Magazine Volume 15 Issue 2 (2014)  

The Magazine made especially for kids who want to learn about BC wildlife. This issue features articles about the fascinating long bodied ce...

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