Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Arachnida Exotica Calendar 2017

Arachnida Exotica Calendar 2017
Please use the drop-down menu for UK, Europe, USA and Australia

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Spiders Calendar 2017

Spiders Calendar 2017

Please use the drop-down menu for UK, Europe, USA and Australia

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Green Huntsman Spider - Micrommata sp

    Micrommata sp
    Family : Sparassidae
    Genus : Micrommata

    Sparassids lie in wait and grab passing prey. Mating begins with the male
    gripping the female's leg or abdomen in his chelicerae, it can last up to seven
    This photograph was taken by my good friend, Gary Bradley,
    of, on his barge in the North East of France. Gary tells me
    that they are in abundance in the area.
    Source : Spider Recording Scheme, Collins Field Guide to Spiders of
    Britain and Northern Europe - Michael J. Roberts, Spiders of Britain and
    Northern Europe - Dick Jones.
   Micrommata sp - M. virescens or M. ligurina
    Photograph by Gary Bradley
    Moussey, France
    September 2014

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Philodromus cespitum

  Philodromus cespitum
  Family : Philodromidae
  Genus : Philodromus 
  Known as the Turf running spider. 

    Female Philodromus cespitum
    Bevendean Down, Brighton, East Sussex
    I found this spider on gorse at Bevendean Down, Brighton, East Sussex. It
    appears to have a hitcher - a young Velvet mite. The mite feeds on the spider,
    but does not harm it, as it will eventually drop off when approaching
    "This is almost certainly the form which has an overall pale top surface to the 
    abdomen. Philodromus cespitum and others in the aureolus group are very 
    variable, and can't generally be identified from photos, and lots of 
    arachnologists have trouble even under a microscope, but this is the one 
    variety which is pretty certain". 
    Peter Harvey - British Arachnological Society


Spider hosts and Wasp parasitoids

    In November 2013, I found this Gibbaranea gibbosa in Hassocks,
    West Sussex. I sent the recording to Peter Harvey of the British
    The spider is a juvenile male, in mid-molt.
    Paynes Southdown Bee Farm, Hassocks, West Sussex
    I collected the spider, with the aim of raising it to adulthood.  
    It was only when I got it home, that I noticed it had a parasite attached just    
    behind the carapace.
    I observed it's growth over the next few weeks, and eventually it pupated,
    hanging from the strands of silk left by the spider. 
    Brighton, East Sussex
    Peter Harvey suggested that I send the images to Dr. Mark Shaw - the leading 
    UK authority on Spider parasitoids. I did so, and this was Mark's reply : 
    "I have never found Gibbaranea gibbosa, parasitised or not, but your 
    parasitoid is (to judge from its position on the host) most likely to be a 
    Polysphincta sp., the species of which parasitise the larger Araneidae (there 
    are several possibilities, but only one is really common). A different genus, 
    Sinarachna, also uses this host group, but it is always positioned half way 
    along the abdomen, not right at its base as in Polysphincta. However, all 
    species of both genera normally overwinter as small diapausing larvae on the 
    host, only doing the rapid development you saw in the following spring (there 
    is also a fast-developing summer generation of most species, but that would 
    be over by August at the latest). Therefore, for all of the foregoing reasons, I 
    would be really interested to see the adult parasitoid once it emerges - or to 
    have the cocoon (if it has spun it yet - just leave the larva undisturbed in the 
    spiders silk and it should manage to do your pic you can particularly 
    clearly see the specialised wart-like structures that help it to move around in 
    and hold onto spider's silk). There should be the remains (shrivelled up, just 
    its skin) of the spider somewhere on the floor of the container I think - please 
    also keep these".
    Unfortunately, the coccoon fell from the spider silk, and deteriorated in the 
    substrate at the bottom of the jar. I spent hours, sifting through the soil with
    tweezers, but sadly, to no avail. This was my first attempt at raising a 
    parasitoid, but a real shame that I failed as it seems it was likely to have been 
    a new/ unknown species : 
    "I consulted a colleague (Niclas FritzĂ©n, in Finland) and he says he has no 
    records of a Polysphincta ex this host (the position of the larva suggests 
    Polysphincta), so it might be worth trying to get a det for it by DNA".
    Dr. Mark Shaw
    I was so fascinated by this parasitoid, and the information that Mark shared,
    that I was determined to succeed in rearing any parasitoids that I found.
    I purchased Mark's book - Rearing Parasitic Hymenoptera from the Amateur
    Entomologist's Society. It is a truly fascinating read and I found that I was
    hooked on the idea of rearing these parasitoids.
    In March of 2014, I found this Tetragnatha sp., on a life buoy at Railway
    Land Nature Reserve in Lewes, East Sussex.
    Railway land Nature Reserve, Lewes, East Sussex
    I collected this spider and sent these images to Dr. Mark Shaw :
    "It will be one of two Acrodactyla species. Both are quite widespread and 
    fairly common ex Tetragnatha spp."
    Two weeks later, the larva had pupated, attached to the silk left by the now
    deceased spider.
     Brighton, East Sussex
     Roughly two weeks later, the parasitoid hatched from it's coccoon.
    Brighton, East Sussex
    The hatched Acrodactyla sp. (Tetragnatha spp. parasitoid)
    "Male Acrodactyla carinator (Aubert 1965)" - Id by Dr. Mark Shaw
    The Wasp is now stored at the Scottish Natural History Museum.

    The day after finding the Tetragnatha spp. in Lewes, I found a Baby
    Araniella sp., also with an attached parasitoid, in Isfield, East Sussex
    The spider was about 1,5mm in size, and difficult to photograph, but I sent
    these images to Dr. Mark Shaw :
    "On Araniella in that position it might be Sinarachna pallipes. Otherwise, if 
    in a transverse position like your thing from G. gibbosa, there are 2  
    Polysphincta species that are possible : P. boops (rare), and P. tuberosa     

    My next find, was this Agalenatea redii playing host to a parasite.
    I was sat by a stream at Ditchling Common, East Sussex, when this spider

    appeared on my leg. I collected it and took it home, to rear.

    Ditchling Common, East Sussex

    Again, I sent this image to Dr. Mark Shaw : 
    "That could be really interesting - the position suggests it is not a  
    Polysphincta (which is the genus that usually goes for the larger araneids)".
    The larva pupated 23.04.14, but unfortunately, the adult did not emerge.    
    I sent the remains to Dr. Mark Shaw - "The remnants of your A. redii   
    parasitoid (from Ditchling Common) had got to pharate adult stage, and is 
    probably in good enough condition to get a det via DNA...I will send it to 
    Niclas Fritzen". 
    Currently awaiting a DNA reading.

    My next find, was this young spider, from the Theridiidae family.
    I sent the images to Peter harvey of the B.A.S. / S.R.S., who kindly
    identified it as probably Achaearanea sp. It was on a 
    gravestone that I visit at the Extra Mural Cemetery in Brighton.

    Theridiidae (possibly Achaearanea juvenile) with parasite
    Extra Mural Cemetery, Brighton, East Sussex

     Two days after collecting this parasite and host, the larva pupated.
    One week later, the Theridiidae parasite hatched.
    I sent it to Dr Mark Shaw to identify :
    "It is a male Zatypota albicoxa, which is indeed a parasitoid of Achaearanea 

    spp, and rather uncommon in Britain". 
    Two months later, 22.08.14, whilst looking at the same gravestone where I 
    found the  Achaearanea spp. with parasite, I found a pupa (no spider 
    present). I collected it to see if I could raise it to hatch. 
    It hatched one week later. I think it may be a female Zatypota albicoxa.     

   Possibly a female Zatypota albicoxa, with cocoon.
   I sent this to Dr. Mark Shaw :
   "Indeed it is a female Zatypota albicoxa. Thanks very much - I am pleased to 
   have another nice specimen of it, and it is nice to know that a single 
   gravestone can be so productive!"

    I photographed this Achaearanea sp., with parasitoid larva, in an old 
    woodland. I did not collect the spider, as I did not notice the attached larva
    until I enlarged the photograph, later that day.

    Hassocks, West Sussex
    From the same woodland, and on the same day, I collected this Metellina sp., 
    with attached parasitoid larva.    
    Five days later, the larva had grown considerably.    
   The larva got so big and heavy, that it pulled the spider from it's web.
   Luckily, it landed on the cotton wool that I had placed inside the container,

   so to safely transport the spider.

   The "paler than usual non-overwintering coccoon" - Dr. Mark Shaw
   I sent these images to Dr. Mark Shaw, who told me that "it is the only British
   species of the "polysphinctine" spider-parasitoids group that overwinters as a
   cocoon - all the others do it as a very small larva on the overwintering host
   spider (at least, as far as is or two species have yet to be reared).
   So it will not hatch until next year - it will need to be kept in a cool and damp
   place (ie not too an outbuilding that doesnt get sunshine, or a garage),
   but you could bring it indoors again in about March and it should hatch OK.
   Although it is not a really rare species, it would be vey nice to have the
   specimen in due course because specimens from known hosts are always
   valuable (although I appreciate the host det in this case may only be to genus).
    I did this, and to my surprise, the adult hatched a week later. 
    I sent the adult wasp, the coccoon and the remains of the spider to
    Dr. Mark Shaw. He identified it as a female Megaetaira madida.
    "I guess that, as it is anyway plurivoltine, that Megaetaira madida of yours 
    just squeezed in an extra generation and hatched without overwintering. But 
    the species does overwinter in a cocoon (I presume rather than on a host, ever 
    - but I suppose it may be able to do both, though I would be a bit surprised)".
    I'd like to thank Dr. Mark Shaw for all the fascinating information that he
    has shared on this subject. I will continue to search for spider parasitoids
    and attempt to rear them to adulthood.