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New spider name salutes Native American ties

Contest inspired by UC Davis professor's rare discovery draws 200-plus entries

This is a female Cryptocteniza kawtak.
(Photo courtesy Jason Bond, UC Davis)

A once-in-a-lifetime discovery now has a name: Cryptocteniza kawtak .

That blend of Latin and Mutsun was the winning entry in a naming contest
for a new species of trapdoor spider, discovered by UC Davis professor Jason Bond.

Bond found the unusual spider, described as “a living fossil” for its throwback ancestry,
on a sandy beach at Moss Landing State Park near Monterey.

During the pandemic, he held an online naming contest and received more than 200 suggestions
from around the globe.

“There were a lot of names proposed,” Bond told Bug Squad blogger Kathy Keatley Garvey.
“They fell into a few general categories:
1) named after me – people apparently like my last name and the association with the James Bond
character but naming a spider after one’s self would not be good form;
2) Native Americans, particularly California indigenous groups;
3) location (Moss Landing) and/or physical description; and
4) names related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests and movement and George Floyd.”

Announced Monday, the winning entry -- “kawtak” -- fell into groups two and three.
The name comes from the Mutsun word for “seashore.”

The Mutsun tribe lived near Mission San Juan Bautista, not far from Moss Landing.

“I have also named other California spiders in the past for Native American groups and
feel strongly that such new species names are an elegant connection to California, to the
land and its native people,” Bond said.

The name was submitted by entomologist and UC Davis alumna Kirsten Pearsons,
who just received her doctorate at Penn State.

In her submission, she wrote: “Kawtak means ‘on the seashore' in the Mutsun language.
Before the Spanish arrived, the Moss Landing area was home to the Mutsun people. Today,
tribal members and linguists are working to revitalize the Mutsun language, so this could
be a small way to recognize this effort and to recognize their ties to the Monterey Bay.

"Also, it just sounds nice following the genus name!”

Bond first discovered the new spider (a female) in 1997, but it took until 2019 for him to
find a male and verify a separate species.

With a team of UC Davis colleagues, Bond wrote a scientific journal article on the spider find,


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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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