Marjorie Moody
The 
Spider Lady

Marjorie Moody received her BA in Zoology from UCLA. She's currently the Insect Biosystematist with the Pink Bollworm Project, California Dept. of Food and Agriculture since 1968. An avid arachnologist since 1950, she visited the Kaweah Oaks Preserve over many years to collect spider specimens. A number of her specimens were collected by Rev. Lee Wilson, a very good friend and fellow naturalist. She tells of many visits from Father Wilson, bringing her live spiders, which he found at KOP and just didn't have the heart to “KILL”. 

Marjorie Moody at KOP April 29, 2000

She tells of a special day when she was out at KOP with Dick Smith and others on a Wednesday morning  birding expedition when, as they stood on the metal bridge on the Grapevine Trail watching Black Phoebes, they observed a frisky lone mink running along the creek bank. They watched as it dove into the water and came up the other side. It was a positive ID for sure, due to the fact that Lee Wilson's brother raised mink in his youth and Lee knew one when he saw one! It was the most exciting sighting of the day. 
 


Marjorie cut her teeth on Ohio birds back in the sixth grade. Her sixth grade teacher enrolled her whole class in the Junior  Audubon Society and Marjorie cherished every publication and birding opportunity. And at this same time her friend and classmate knew lots of birds, too, because she lived out of town on many acres of natural landscape. Her nanny, Martha Englehart, was a naturalist and taught her the native plants and birds of the area. Marjorie moved to California in 1944 during her senior year in high school; and to her delight she had already learned many of the western birds. Her favorite California bird at that time was the tiny bushtit. 

Jim Lane was a classmate in Junior College who had no interest in birding till Marjorie asked him to join her on a Cooper Ornithological Club meeting in 1946 or 1947. He was easily hooked and became the writer of The Lane Guides. 

Her interest in spiders came shortly after graduating from college. She says, "I used to see spiders crawling on the bathroom wall in Santa Ana, California. I  wondered if anyone knew what they were – REALLY!" She acquired a book at the LA County Museum Bookstore, How To Know the Spiders, by B.J. Kaston. But without any device to get a closer view at the spiders, she dropped the spider fetish  for a time. Luckily she met a gentleman, an entomologist with a missionary spirit, Dr. Robert X. Schick, that shared her enthusiasm for spiders. He invited Marjorie to a collection party, she was captivated with the eight legged critters. 

Dr. Schick was studying crab spiders but wanted her to study Oxyopes scalaris Lynx spiders, which he suspected was more that one species. After performing several mating experiments and rearing the offspring (this is difficult because the siblings eat each other) trying to prove how many species there were, she shared her finding at a Arachnid Symposium at San Diego State College that same year. She proved that there is only one species. 


Another new species!


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