When looking for wildlife in the snow, anything ectothermic is probably not high on your list. Imagine my surprise on my last couple walks to repeatedly come face-to-face with tiny spiders dangling at eye level. Who knew there were spiders active in winter? Eventually I found one motionless on the surface of the snow, and when I picked it up the warmth of my hand quickly revived it and started it running around on my fingers.
(Not an easy thing to photograph.) Shortly afterword I found an equally tiny larva of some sort, which I would guess had fallen out of a tree. It, too, perked up and started crawling inchworm-style across my hand.
Bernd Heinrich’s Winter World, my go-to source of information about winter ecology, was no help on the spiders. However, he does talk quite a bit about geometrid moth caterpillars, and after a quick Google image search I think that could be the identity of my larva. They’re an important winter food source for Golden-crowned Kinglets.
The resilience of these little things is astounding. In warmer seasons I probably wouldn’t take any notice of a spider a centimeter long, but in winter it becomes something to marvel over.