If ET was a money spider

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 2 May 2018 18:41

Excuse the poor quality photo but I had to share this one. Last Sunday was our third Ditchling Beacon Conservation Super Squad and as my back is anything other than super, I was on light duties. Which involved finding wildlife to show the team on a freezing cold day. I had a go with the suction sampler in the quarry at Ditchling and picked up a tiny (1.5 mm) spider. It wasn't until I got home and looked down the microscope that I saw this...

I am still terrified of ET as a 40 year old 'man'. I've gone all jittery looking through photos just to write this post. Anyway, money spiders with freaky heads are pretty cool but this one is really weird. What looks like nostrils are actually one of the four pairs of eyes. The palps (External Testicles) were pretty weird too. This is Panamomops sulcifrons (my 373rd arachnid). It's a bit of a chalk-grassland specialist but what's strange is that I didn't pick it up at all last year during a survey there, in fact there were only three species of spider with conservation status that went into the management plan. Even though I was using a suction sampler in that exact same spot. It just shows that ongoing casual recording is also a great way to add to our knowledge of sites. The only other record on a Trust reserve is from Malling in 2009.

This is the second Nationally Scarce species we have added to the site list whilst scrub bashing up at Ditchling. A great way to do practical conservation and learn about wildlife at the same time. Have a look here if you want to sign up. It's always the last Sunday of the month and involves some steep and challenging work but is really rewarding. We also found three other species new to the site. Yellow Archangel, Moschatel and Palmate Newt!

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