Welcome to The Search for Neodietrichia! We are excited you've stopped by. This project started a few years ago when our lab at the University of Indianapolis discovered an undescribed (new to science) Neodietrichia in central Indiana. This was astonishing to us since the only known Neodietrichia was from California! After years of borrowing specimens from museums, speaking to fellow arachnologists (spider researchers), traveling to various states in search of these spiders, and sampling within Indiana, we learned that there are likely multiple undescribed Neodietrichia throughout North America just waiting to be discovered! Our problem then is as it is now: acquiring specimens.
Most arachnologists collect from the ground or from brush. We are pretty sure that Neodietrichia lives in the trees! In this way, it has escaped widespread detection for decades. After some tree sampling experimentation of our own, we discovered how to find and capture the spider within Indiana: tree sticky traps. We think this same technique can be applied to trees in any other state to find the critter too. However, it would be very difficult for us to travel across the US and Canada, setting out tree sticky traps, waiting two weeks, and coming back to collect those tree sticky traps - especially during a global pandemic. This is where we need your help!
As part of this project, you will set up a sticky trap on a tree (preferably a smooth-barked tree such as American beech (Fagus grandifolia)) during the Spring, Fall, or Winter, wait two weeks, remove the trap, pull off the spiders with forceps, and send them to our lab. These spiders are tiny (2-3 mm), but can be seen with the naked eye or with the use of a magnifying glass or dissecting microscope. We can send you supplies for the project and participation won't cost you anything.
All participants will receive acknowledgement in the final published manuscript for their valuable contribution and updates about the project as it proceeds, including signed illustrations of species they collected, official identifications of their specimens, and knowledge of the results of taxonomic analyses prior to publication.
With your help, we can learn more about these rare, tree-climbing spiders that have hidden from the world for so long!