One of my favorite finds of 2011 was Brownie. Brownie is a large female Brown Recluse, Loxosceles reclusa. She's the largest Brown Recluse that I've ever seen. We actually found her crawling on a gas can in the shed behind the house. I caught her and decided to keep her as a pet and display spider. She's been a good one.
Throughout the summer and fall, I found a bunch of wolf spiders, Lycosidae. These large, sleek spiders have always been one of my favorite families. The one pictured was found sitting near the door to the dorms one day after I had finished with my classes. I kept her for a long time, and she eventually passed away in my care.
Another cool spider that I found was the Golden Silk Spider, Nephilla clavipes. I'd never seen one alive in person before BugFest of 2011. She'd been building her web over a trail that I was walking down, and so I coaxed her onto my hand. I ended up incorporating her into my presentation that night and the next day. She crawled onto my face during one of these talks, which got a great reaction from the crowd.
2011 was a great year for finding all kinds of interesting spiders. I have a feeling, though, that 2012 will be even better. Here's to a great New Year!