Resource Ramblings 2006-10

Black Widow Spider - Latrodectus spp.
Black Widow Spider - Latrodectus spp.

Black Widow Spiders

The black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) is notorious for its nerotixic venom. Adult females are shiny black with a red hourglass marking on the bottom of their abdomens. Males are half the size of the female, usually dark brown and have no hourglass mark.

anitation and habitat modification are key for spider control. This may be accomplished by dusting, sweeping, or other methods of removing active spider webs. Creating a physical barrier to movement of spiders into buildings is also an effective management technique.

Precautionary measures to reduce the risk of being bitten by spiders include wearing shoes and leather gloves when working in risk areas. Be observant when working in low lying, dry spaces such as crawl spaces, old boards, old log piles, and window wells. If bitten by a black widow seek medical attention. Infection and reaction to neurotoxins are painful, but the risk of major injuries or death is rare.

Groundwater Monitoring At Wind Cave

Wind Cave National Park lies in the heart of the recharge zone for the regionally significant Madison Aquifer. The Madison Aquifer is contained within the Madison Limestone and covers 4,113 square miles in size. Much of the recharge to the aquifer comes from stream flow losses as streams cross outcrop areas of the karstic Madison Limestone, the geologic unit in which Wind Cave is located. The Madison Aquifer serves as the primary source of drinking water for the park, as well as the local area, including Hot Springs.

Wind Cave is deep enough that it intersects the water table in a place that is simply referred to as “The Lakes”. This window into the aquifer has provided an opportunity for monitoring and research that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Starting in 1988 the USGS installed a water level datalogger in the lake to determine fluctuations within the aquifer. This was removed in 1992 but park staff continued monitoring water levels by installing a staff gage and performing monthly trips into the cave to record the level of the water.

In 2006, the Park obtained funding from the Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Program and purchased three HOBO water level dataloggers to establish a long-term groundwater monitoring program. Three sites will be monitored during this study, one groundwater lake within Wind Cave and two wells, one being in the Madison Aquifer and the other in the Minnelusa Aquifer. The objectives for this monitoring program are twofold. First is to obtain long-term data on the levels of the groundwater within the park to determine natural fluctuations in response to weather cycles such as drought or wet periods. Second, by having an understanding of the natural fluctuations of the groundwater the park will be able to detect affects caused by extraction of the groundwater through wells, either in or near the park.

Groundwater in the southern Black Hills, including that of the Park, has several unfortunate threats looming overhead. The area is currently in a mutli-year drought and future predictions show no sign of relief on the horizon. Without precipitation to recharge the aquifer, groundwater levels have been and will continue to drop. As world-wide climate changes continue, the Northern Great Plains may be destined to remain in drought conditions for quite some time. Monitoring groundwater responses during these changes will enable the park to make educated decisions regarding the groundwater resources within the park. (Marc Ohms)

Wind Cave Place Names

One on-going project has been a Place Name Lexicon for Wind Cave place names. The project was started in 2000 when a database was created. The intent was to document why names were chosen and to create an official list of “sanctioned” place names found in Wind Cave. Once the database was completed, a search was begun for lists of place names from Wind Cave. Those names were gathered from five sources, including: Alvin McDonald’s diary, Dave Schnute’s place name card file, Mazes and Marvels by E. C. Horn, cave survey notes, and cave maps. All historic place names that were not vulgar were automatically accepted into the new database, regardless of how they were chosen. Names reflecting place ownership were changed to reflect place (i.e., Adam’s Well was changed to Adams well), a practice used by the USGS on topographic maps. In the Place Name Lexicon, the following are recorded: place name, section in cave where found, nearest survey station, date named, who named it, and why the name was chosen. There are over 1,821 place names in the database. However, the database is continually updated with names from new surveys, as well as corrections or additional information about existing names. Jim Pisarowicz has an updated version of the list on a web page at:

For new names, a combination of USGS place naming rules and caver etiquette rules are used when selecting place names to add to the database. Our current policy is to give the cave surveyors the opportunity to name places as they survey. The trip leader of each trip, recommends names to us after a trip is over. Leaders are trained with these naming guidelines/rules:

1) No names after a living person.

2) No vulgar or offensive names.

3) The area in question must be surveyed prior to naming.

As many of the place names as could fit onto the new cave quadrangle maps were included. These maps can be found hanging in the VIP Center. If you have additional information about a particular place name in the Place Name Lexicon, please provide that information with Rod Horrocks, so appropriate update can be made. - Rod Horrocks

Comments and feedback about Resource Ramblings are encouraged and can be made to Dan Foster, in person, or via email.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Hot Springs, SD 57747


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