So long and thanks for all the spiders

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday 1 December 2019 06:48

It is with great sadness that I must announce that I will be leaving Sussex Wildlife Trust by the middle of the month. I am going to become a full-time freelancer which will hopefully also free up more time for other natural history activities, such as becoming more involved with the BAS in Sussex. It's been a fantastic 12 years, I will still be very much involved with the 32 reserves, continuing to do a great deal of recording. Such as yesterday's spontaneous survey...

Shaun Pryor and I headed to Woods Mill, our target; to look for two common linys that I have frequently recorded at Woods Mill but I have not seen this year. Centromerita bicolor and Bathyphantes nigrinus. We saw neither. We did however see a whole load of really good stuff. Here is the full list with those in bold being new to Woods Mill. Some of these species are well known from the site (Such as Drassyllus lutetianus and Ero apahana) so I am making an informed ID on a few immatures here.

Agalenatea redii
Ballus chalybeius (NS)
Bathyphantes gracilis
Clubiona phragmitis
Clubiona stagnatilis
Clubiona subtilis
Drassyllus lutetianus (NS)
Episinus angulatus
Ero aphana (NS)
Ero furcata
Gnathonarium dentatum
Gongylidium rufipes
Hypomma bituberculatum
Hypsosinga pygmaea
Kaestneria pullata
Larinioides cornutus
Lepthyphantes tenuis
Lepthyphantes zimmermanni
Mangora acalypha
Meioneta mollis (NR)
Micaria pulicaria
Microneta viaria
Monocephalus castaneipes (NS)
Neriene clathrata
Neriene montana
Ozyptila brevipes
Pachygnatha clercki
Palliduphantes pallidus
Panamomops sulcifrons (NS)
Pardosa amentata
Pholcus phalangioides
Pisaura mirabilis
Porrhomma pygmaeum
Tallusia experta
Thanatus striatus (NS)
Theridiosoma gemmosum (NS)
Walckenaeria acuminata
Walckenaeria cuspidata
Walckenaeria unicornis
Zora spinimana

We recorded at least 10 new site records and almost as many new 10 km square records. Four of these new species had conservation status, a really significant result to add to our understanding of the site. One of the last things I will do next week is write the biological information for the next Woods Mill plan and these findings will get a mention. So even after I have gone, expect me to keep adding to the understanding of these fantastic reserves in such a way.

The highlight was totally unexpected. A female Monocephalus castaneipes from Hoe Woods. This is the first time I have seen this species, my 50th new spider in 2019 and my 347th spider of 2019.

Almost as unexpected was the species at the top of the page. Panamomops sulcifrons. I have picked this up twice before, both times from chalk quarries. This time it was sieved from litter along the river at Woods Mill. The male is less than 1.5 mm long (smaller than 97% of our spiders) and it's really funny looking.

In the Box hedge right outside my office window, Ballus chalybeius new to the site.

Also there is a colony of Ero aphana which I already knew about.

In the same hedge, some tiny Theridiosoma gemmsosum. Who knew?!

And the first Walckenaeria cuspidata in West Sussex since 1964. That's the one in the middle with unicornis on the left and a female acuminata on the right.

In the valley field, lots of Thanatus striatus.

And a female Palliduphantes pallidus.

And perhaps most surprising, an adult male Pardosa amentata. I haven't seen an adult Pardosa for months so this was quite a surprise.

So Friday the 13th is my last day at the Trust, and hopefully we will wake up to a fantastic red sunrise that day too. We have one month left on the spider challenge. I've closed the gap a little, Matt's now 15 species ahead. Next weekend I am off to the south west for a long weekend of spidering so it's all to play for.

2 Response to "So long and thanks for all the spiders"

Hilary Melton-Butcher Says:

Hi Graeme - congratulations on your job sojourn at the Wildlife Trust ... and now good luck with the freelance side of your future. Enjoy the long weekend in the south west - cheers and I hope you keep blogging - Hilary

Graeme Lyons Says:

Thanks Hilary, I will!

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