Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 9 March 2014 11:55
There are four pirate spiders in the UK in the genus Ero. They are smart looking, have a very cool ecology and of course are blessed with a rather silly name that lends itself to many bad puns. I encountered my first Ero at Stedham Common, the Nb Ero tuberculata. The second species of Ero I saw was in my garden in Brighton last year being Ero furcata. Yesterday, at my secret site just north of Brighton I went and started an invertebrate survey I am doing there for fun this year. I am treating it seriously though using a standardised methodology and after some sweeping in the meadow (where I spotted my first Brimstone of the year) I spied an old pile of grass cuttings. A little sieving produced a lot of invertebrates but best of all was my third Ero, Ero cambridgei (photo). That leaves me just the one Ero now, which Mark has found on his bedroom wall! Pirate spiders are so called because they predate other spiders, pretending to be prey in other spider's webs they then attack the spiders and suck them dry through a hole in the leg!
Other highlights from same patch of cuttings yesterday included Sepedophilus littoreus and Ozyptila simplex. In the nearby wood I also saw a new saproxylic beetle, Orchesia micans, a Nb species that I beat from fallen Ivy. At least eight species I hadn't seen before from just two hours in the field including two new spiders was not bad at all!
So where is the most likely place to see my missing Ero (apahana)? Once confined to heaths it now seems to be easier to find it on bedroom walls or gents toilets! I'm sure it's nothing that a broad sword or a 'pass through rock' spell can't sort out though...