This is the web of a purse-web spider. Related to the tarantula,
the purse-web spider is named for its tubular webs thought to
resemble an old-fashioned pull-purse. Inhabitants of damp
woodlands, purse-web spiders spend most of their lives in burrows
underground, which they line with silk. They extend the silk up the
sides of tree trunks, camouflaging it with bits of dirt and debris.
Attached to the tree at the top only, the tube vibrates when an
unsuspecting insect crosses the tube. Feeling the vibration, the
spider rushes up the tube and impales its victim.
White-tailed deer are abundant and frequently
wander by the Conservation Center. The Pinewoods treefrog sounds
out its morse-code-like tapping from high in the trees. Turkeys are
found among the oaks and pines and sometimes roost in the cypress
fringing May's Prairie. Because May's Prairie occasionally becomes
dry, fish are rare, making it a sanctuary for thousands of
amphibians, including pig and bull frogs, barking treefrogs,
squirrel treefrogs, dwarf sirens, and tiger salamanders.
After heavy fall and winter rains, you can hear the
snore-like call of the gopher frog, a species of special concern.
May's Prairie is also home to sandhill cranes, herons, ibises,
egrets, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaups, and hooded
Bobcats frequently leave telltale scat on the
boardwalk leading through the swamp to May's Prairie. Higher up in
the surrounding sandhill, gopher tortoises, another species of
special concern, browse near their half-moon-shaped burrows.
Chinsegut is a choice location for seeing migratory
as well as resident birds. Migrants include the black-and-white
warbler, indigo bunting, blackpoll warbler, redstart, and Cape May
warbler. Summer tanagers, white-eyed vireos, eastern towhees, pine
warblers, and northern parula warblers nest in the area. Each
spring Chinsegut hosts a welcome back songbirds festival. Check out
our bird list
to find out what you might see on your bird watching
Reptiles and Amphibians: Implications for
Kevin Enge - Gopher Frog
In 1995-96 and 1998, wildlife biologists Kevin Enge
and Kristin Wood used drift fences to survey reptiles and
amphibians in sandhill, xeric hammock, and basin marsh habitats of
Chinsegut Conservation Center. The area proved to have a rich and
diverse array of reptiles and amphibians. Four adult eastern tiger
salamanders were captured in the xeric hammock, representing the
southernmost record for this species in Florida. Large numbers of
juvenile gopher frogs, a state listed species of special concern,
were captured dispersing from May's Prairie in June and July. A
juvenile short-tailed snake, a state listed threatened species, was
captured in the sandhill on June 5, 1998. Only one other
short-tailed snake has ever been recorded for Hernando County.
Two management implications emerged from the study.
Although the xeric hammock at the Chinsegut Conservation Center was
once sandhill as evidenced by remnant longleaf pine, restoration of
the xeric hammock adjacent to May's prairie would be difficult and
may not be beneficial to amphibian populations, which thrive in the
humid and moist environment of the hammock. Stocking of fish in
May's Prairie would also be harmful to the over 15 species of
amphibians that breed in the marsh. Most of these breed in small,
ephemeral wetlands and are not adapted to withstand predation by
fish. Even without fish, large wetlands may be highly productive
for reptiles, wading birds, and mammals as well as amphibians.
Chinsegut Bird List