Pretty as a picta

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 21 August 2021 18:30

I went back to Amberley Chalk Pit today but this time, Tylan was with me. We got one of the target species. This is the first record of Eratigena picta in the UK since 2009. It was first found in the UK at Amberley Chalk Pit in 1982, but it hasn't been seen there since 1997. Now I am pretty sure I have been rearing a tiny one for the last two months since I first went there in early July, it's shed its skin twice but is still way smaller than all the ones we saw today. It's a nationally rare/vulnerable species only ever known from four hectads, and last recorded by Scotty on the North Downs in 2009.

As an adult, this thing is maybe just a little bigger than Tegenaria silvestris (which is abundant here but more tied to the scree).

Tylan was really good at finding them and it soon became clear it wasn't in the scree (like the one I found in July was) but on the slopes around the roots of the plants. The gentle rain helped highlight the webs.

Here are some more shots. I really like the speckled cephalothorax. It's really unlike any spider I have seen and the epigyne looks more like a big liny's, such as a Neriene. Here are some more shots.

And a fungus-infected Amaurobius ferox. What a strange looking thing. I have retained the specimen and will hopefully get it sent to the county specialist for identification.

That's 345 species for the year. Great to see Tylan after nearly a year. A nice distraction from everything else that's going on. He's closing on me now though, so it's still all to play for, for 2021!

A big thanks to Amberley Heritage Museum for their help too!

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