Endangered spider best birthday gift ever!

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 23 April 2019 19:33

So last Tuesday I went hunting spiders at Levin Down and Iping Common on my birthday. I did pretty well but didn't really find anything I hadn't seen before. Until a few days later when I found a little thing in the bottom of my utility belt (it's not a bum bag) which I assumed was an immature in the field but clearly looked different enough for me to put it in its own tube. It took a while to figure out it was an adult female Scotina. Now I have seen Scotina gracilipes and celans only very occasionally and find them quite generic looking but this was found by sieving moss in chalk-grassland, so there was a chance it was the Nationally Rare and Endangered Scotina palliardii. I wasn't sure, so sent it off to Peter Harvey who confirmed it was today. There is one record for Shoreham with a vague date, which is the only other Sussex record. It's the 392nd spider recorded on a Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve and seems to be a genuinely scarce beast. It's the first larger spider I have added to the reserve list since year listing spiders became a thing this year (the only other species so far was Sintula corniger). Can we get to 400 spiders for the reserve network? Levin has some really good spiders, with 18.8% of the 64 spiders recorded there having conservation status.

A few nights later, I went over to see my mate Simon who has recently moved to Shoreham. Last year I did an invertebrate survey there for the Friends of Shoreham Beach that involved extensive suction sampling on vegetated shingle. I had another go for 10 minutes and found a spider genus (in good numbers - six at least) that I had never seen before. Zodarion. I also didn't have any genitalia diagrams of this genus so wasn't able to identify them, so I sent them to Peter along with the Scotina and he confirmed them as the most likely candidate, the Nationally Scarce Zodarion italicum which is a new species for West Sussex. They looked like very fast money spiders in the tray, also not far off a reddish Phrurolithus festivus in the way they moved (which I found them with). What's really strange is that I found so many of them so easily but didn't pick them up last time. The one big difference was it was at 7.30 pm at the end of a very warm day, so maybe they are more active at this time of day.

I end the day on 194 spiders for the year! Can I find another six spiders in seven days?

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