Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

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,


0 comments have been posted.

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Local News

Ad for California Local

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

Contact Us

Send us a gardening question, a post suggestion or information about an upcoming event.