Thursday, 11 September 2014

Mini Beasts...

The fine autumn weather we're getting at the moment is certainly favouring our spider friends. Many species have now reached full maturity and there are some stunners to be seen at the moment. Take the little fellow below - the spider equivalent of a spitting cobra!  This is Scytodes thoracica and despite being labelled 'common' in the books, this is the first one I've seen.

It could just be a simple distribution thing, I found this one while in Kent and maybe they are common in the south-east but not in my part of Somerset. This is a unique species in the UK as it doesn't spin a web but shoots a web/venom mixture through holes at the tip of each fang at their prey from up to 15mm away, glueing them down and allowing an easy snack. This is the reason they have such a large, domed head to accommodate the glands which produce this sticky goo. It's also very strikingly marked, though not big - this one had a body length of just 5mm, which is about as big as they get.

Scytodes thoracica or Spitting Spider: R. Harris

I've found a few crackers locally too. Including some spectacular Araneus quadratus in different colour forms -

Araneus quadratus: R. Harris
Araneus quadratus, yellow form: R. Harris
Araneus quadratus: R. Harris
The first one below is nationally quite scarce but can be found in relatively good numbers in the bird hide at Chard res - that is as long as the warden doesn't try and 'clean it out' too often. Wouldn't want the mums and toddlers getting scared would we?

Larnioides sclopetarius: R. Harris
Nuctenea umbratica from the garden fence: R. Harris

Zygiella x-notata - coming to a house near you: R. Harris
Agalenatea redii - another local spider which loves
gorse and heather: R. Harris
Mangora acalypha, male: R. Harris

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