Spiders: Endgame

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 6 October 2019 16:46

I decided to purge my cold and spent the whole day spidering yesterday and feel much better for it. I got THREE county firsts for my efforts (all under 2mm, all with the suction sampler) too so was pretty pleased, and five new spiders for the year ending the day on 315 species.

First, quick recap on the spider year listing. It all got a bit much for me from July onward with work. Too busy surveying spiders to actually find spiders. I know this sounds crazy but it's true. Now I have some more free time I can get out and go where I like. Also, from July onward, I find spidering really dull until about now. The game is back on. So where are we? I make no apologies if you haven't seen any Marvel movies and that some of what I am about to say will appear as gibberish...

Captain Devon. Matt's reached the 340s. People think that's a shield, it's actually a tray for sieving spiders. A prototype for the more successful Captain America, he lost interest in fighting and started hanging around cobwebs. They had to let him go.
Thive. I'm like Thor but one better. Attracts rain instead of lightning. If I put my hand out, my suction sampler flies into it no matter where it is (keeps smashing my car boot window though so easier just to open my boot now and not use my powers). Can't distinguish between 'th' and 'f'. On 315.
Theridiron Man. Tylan's on 178. Catchphrase: "Has anyone seen my Potts?" Actually has Cryptachea blablabla living inside his suit.

Fanos. Not actually playing along but some bloke Captain Devon knows was somehow beating us all even by early summer, despite not actually year listing spiders. Currently on somewhere between more than me and a 1000. It definitely has something to do with infinity stones.

As a group, we have seen at least 60% of the UK's fauna, probably two thirds by now.

Anyway, the whole point of this tenuous analogy? It's the last three months of the year and we are moving into a different chapter, the endgame. Time is running out for lots of big spiders, new opportunities opening up for linys. Can I comeback from this far behind now?!

So yesterday, I headed for West Sussex. Called in at Burton Pond where I hadn't seen yet Larinioides sclopetarius for the year! Not actually a hugely common spider in Sussex.

I had a dig around in New Piece and picked up Scotina celans new to the site and Mermessus trilobatus (new to West Sussex from the suction sampler). Both these were on my year list though. I did remember that the edge of the pond is good for Tetragnatha striata. One sweep of the pond edge produced about half a dozen of the distinctive immatures. Really different to the other members of the genus, none of which I would feel comfortable identifying from immatures. In ten years I have only seen this spider here and on one site in the Pevensey Levels.

I suction sampled a couple of old Tussock-sedges and got a funny looking bug. This is a county first for both counties, Ceratocombus coleoptratus. Really odd hairy antennae and a long hairy 'Roman nose'.

Then to Stedham Common. Where I picked up some nice things that I had already seen this year such as loads of adult male Alopecosa barbipes. Note the Marsh Clubmoss in the background!

Then I found Fanos had dropped the Reality Stone! On closer inspection it was actually Cercidia prominens. This was one of the first spiders I recorded in 2019.

I spent the rest of the afternoon suction sampling. I managed to get FOUR new spiders for Iping and Stedham, making the site list 220 with exactly 25% of these having conservation status. Firmly cementing the site as the best spider site in Sussex in terms of species and rarity, that's 55 species with cons status! Amazingly, Mermessus trilobatus was one. The rarest was Meioneta mollis from Stedham (a Nationally Rare species). Also new for me and both counties was the tiny Araeoncus humilis below. I'm quite surprised that this hasn't been picked up before. I like that this has been given the English name 'Modest Forehead'. Also new for the year was Centromerita concinna, the first site record since 1968. 

I found a huge patch of Sphagnum magellenicum or Sphagnum medium as Brad tells me its now called. Actually quite gutted about that name 'change'. It's a strikingly beautiful moss. Here it is with an adult female Trochosa terricola.

And my fith and final new spider of the day was Segestria florentina at the only site I have ever seen it, the middle of Chichester! It's still really uncommon down here with only three 10 km squares. I have had more records for Zoropsis in iRecord than this. I didn't however manage a photo, as I was racing against time to see one against the parking ticket.

So, I am definitely back in the game. Next up, I need to find Araneus marmoreus, another scarce species in Sussex.

UPDATE: I found Araneus marmoreus before finishing writing this blog! I was about to give up but found this adult female at Woods Mill after the fungi workshop! That's 316. I have worked at Woods Mill for 12 years and this is the first I have seen in Sussex outside of the Ashdown Forest, well done to Ryan for finding a pair there a couple of years ago.

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