Monday, September 30, 2013

Time for spiders

This is the time of year when orb web spiders are very noticeable. My garden is festooned with the large webs of the Common garden orb spider (Araneus diadematus). There has been one just outside the kitchen window for some time and the spider tends to sit in the middle of it, especially in the evening towards dusk.

These spiders have a retreat at the end of one of the main strands supporting their web, somewhere like a curled over leaf, where they take what they have caught once they have wrapped it up and subdued it. This one has got a bee I think:

This picture shows the cross shaped pale marking on the abdomen which is characteristic of this large and very variably coloured spider.

I went to Woodwalton Fen yesterday (lovely, sunny Sunday) mainly to try and photograph dragonflies, especially the Ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum). But I also came across a very striking black and yellow orb spider which I don't think I have seen before. A bit of searching through the books suggested that it was Araneus marmoreus var pyramidatus. The "Country Life book of spiders" (Dick Jones) says that this is "very local in Eastern England".

The map from the NBN Gateway shows  the bias towards eastern England quite well. The 10km square in which Woodwalton Fen is located (TL28) is already marked!

Grid map for Araneus marmoreus from NBN Gateway retrieved 30/09/2013