Small Wonder

x3 images. Double click to enlarge.

Another dedicated mother looking after her eggs. This is the Cream-backed Comb-footed Spider (Neottiura bimaculata), which was a new species for me this year, discovered in the back garden.

Only a small one with a body length of around 3 mm (1/8 in). The female carries her egg-sac attached to her spinnerets.

The Dangers of Courtship For The Male Garden Spider Araneus diadematus

x7 images. Double click to enlarge.

It’s amazing what you see sometimes as you travel through your own backyard. I spied this female Araneus diadematus some days ago. She is really quite a big individual and had made a large orbweb stretched between a plant pot and some shrubbery. Here she has a good meal ready to go in the shape of a Hawthorn Shieldbug .. in fact, to my crazy mind, she looks like a band member ready to knock out a tune on it.

The next day, on the late afternoon, I spotted the handsome male Araneus diadematus apparenty repairing and tidying her web for her at a distance. But he had also spun a strong silken quick release safety line … more on that later.

In the above image we can see how large the female is compared to the male. She looks rather intimidating … and she is. I watched as the male Araneus diadematus tentatively approached her along the web, getting a little closer, the female closing the gap … and the male backing off from time to time keeping a little distance between them. He was testing the waters, and so he should. Female Araneus diadematus practices sexual cannibalism before and after insemination. One thing in his favour is the large food package she already has nicely wrapped up … but he certainly didn’t want to be seconds.

Eventually they closed the gap but he was still very sheepish and kept darting back … and on a couple of occasions when he must have read the situation as potentially dangerous rather than amorous he used his pre-made quick release safety line to swing back a good distance out of harms way. They must have been playing this cat and mouse courtship game for a couple of hours … and I don’t know what the outcome was in the end for the male. The next day had seen overnight rain which had damaged some of the web, but the female was found sheltering under a leaf. The male was nowhere to be seen. He was either inside her as last nights late supper … or he had gone off in search of another mate with an extra swagger to his gait.

Sexual cannibalism in spiders is a long-standing evolutionary paradox because it persists despite extreme costs for the victim, usually the male. Several adaptive and nonadaptive hypotheses have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, but empirical studies are still scarce and results are inconclusive.

3 Faces of The Candy-striped Spider


Enoplognatha ovata – This spider comes in 3 flavors … well not quite flavours but forms or ‘morphs’. Not quite faces either, but opisthosomas or abdomens. Form lineata is creamy-yellow with black dots, form redimita is also creamy-yellow but with two broad red stripes and lines of black dots, and finally form ovata has a single broad red band and black spots. Sometimes the black dots may be abscent in all forms. After mating the female folds a leaf, usually bramble or nettle, and deposits a single egg sac inside and guards it. In my green recyling bin, where I tend to find them, they deposit the egg sac in a corner. With the lid down I suppose it offers some protection.


Candy-striped Spider Enoplognatha ovata form lineata
Form lineata

Candy Stripe Spider Enoplognatha ovata form redimita female
Female with egg sac form redimita

Candy Stripe Spider Enoplognatha ovata form ovata
Form ovata

A Surprise Arrival


Life can be downright strange at times, full of odd coincidences and weird synchronicities. Well early this morning I was revamping one of my spider pages on this site which happened to be Platnickina tincta, and then a couple of hours later there was a knock on the door and a delivery driver with a parcel in his hand was stood before me. I thought, Have I ordered anything from Amazon recently? I don’t think I have? Then I started thinking he got the wrong address, but my name and address was on the label. My mind racing a bit, still wondering whether I had ordered anything, or ordered anything by mistake, because there is no signing anymore due to Covid-19, the guy placed the parcel on my door threshold and photographed it as evidence of delivery. Anyway, I opened the parcel and low and behold it was a book on spiders which I hadn’t ordered? Then the penny finally dropped! It was the second edition of Britain’s Spiders, a comprehensive revised guide covering all of Brtain’s 38 spider families, 404 species, with over 900 photos. And one of my photos was in there, after one of the authors, a professor, contacted me through this blog back in May, asking for permission to use it, and this was a complimentary copy. And you may have guessed it already, but the spider in question was Platnickina tincta which I took back in 2018. This is the 2nd time I have had one of my photos printed in a book, so you can imagine how excited I am 🙂


Platnickina tincta

Britain's Spiders


Something Alien


Daddy Long-legs Spider Pholcus phalangioides

I always have these in the sheds, and garage, and they will also appear in the house. I leave them be in the sheds beacause they are not hurting anyone there or causing any bother, but in the house they have to go outside. If you do see one of these and get too close to it whilst it is dangling upside down in its web it will vibrate quite madly, a way of confusing and putting off predators. It is non-native to Britain, most likely arriving here in imported goods, but it has now become well-established over the past 30 odd years.

Daddy Long-legs Spider Pholcus phalangioides

Noble False Widow Spider


Steatoda nobilis – A first for me, and discovered in my bathroom, and narrowly avoided a toothbrush been hurled at it in the early hours by a startled family member. A distant cousin of the Black Widow, this is the largest of the 3 false widow spiders found in Britain, and the most notorious. This is the only non-native species of Steatoda, which was originally from the Canary Islands and Madeira, and it was first recorded in Torquay, Devon, in 1879. It is believed to have been imported with bananas, and it established a stronghold in the South West, particularly Devon. However in recent years Britain’s warmer climate has meant the spider has survived the winter in larger numbers, and it has been able to breed and spread northwards. 


Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis male

Seen throughout the year, and strongly synanthropic (living closely with human beings) it is most commonly found in and around commercial premises, including conservatories, public toilet blocks, garages and sheds, and in peoples homes.


Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis male

Over the years the Noble Black Widow has suffered hyped and inaccurate media claims and became notorious as a ‘killer spider’ causing harmful bites to humans. Although it can bite, it is usually in response to a threat, and it would be no different from a bee or wasp sting for the average person. That is not to say that some people may suffer an allergic reaction to a bite, or it may become infected. The false widow is one of only a dozen breeds of spider in Britain with powerful enough jaws and strong enough venom to pierce human skin and cause a reaction. The chance of a spider bite in Britain is very much less than a bee-sting or wasp-sting – or even of a dog bite – and the consequences are generally less severe. To note, no one has ever died of any kind of spider bite in the UK and the number of reported bites from spiders in general is minimal.

So if you do happen to see one on your bathroom floor, place a small plastic pot over it to contain it, slip a piece of cardboard underneath, and kindly evict it to the outside world.


Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis male

WordPress have recently added a landing page when clicking on an image, so to view enlarged, click back off the landing page, click again, and another click will get you even closer if you are feeling brave today.

To note, after querying this with WordPress and how it may affect photographers and artists, or anybody with an image focused blog, the boffins are looking at ways of adding a zoom when in the landing page area to save on all that finger clicking.


Carnivorous Zebras


Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus) – Opening up the garden shed and entering one morning I encountered this on one of my garden seat cushions I store in there. A Zebra Spider with quite a catch. It is a Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella), quite a bit larger than the spider, yet taken down. It was probably literally pounced upon, as these are known as jumping spiders, and they do not use webs to catch their prey.


Zebra Spider Salticus scenicus

Zebra Spider Salticus scenicus

Bee Moth (Aphomia sociella) female
Bee Moth, a female, taken last year.

Double-click images for a closer look.


Hanging In The Shed


Daddy Long-legs Spider (Pholcus phalangioides) – These have been regular tenants in my sheds and garage (they are evicted from the house on sight) for as long as I remember. I think they are one of the strangest of spiders around. If you disturb them in their web they go crazy and shake and wobble all over the place. Double-click image if you really wanna get closer.


Daddy Long-legs Spider Pholcus phalangioides

© Peter Hillman ♦ 3rd May 2020 ♦ Garden shed, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


You may find my Page of Life of interest, which allows easy access to all species of flora and fauna featured on this site, and might be considered a useful reference.


Cucumber Green Spider


Araniella cucurbitina sensu lato – One of the more colourful spiders with a delightful common name. They are only small. You can tell how big it is by the fragment of moss it is clinging to in the top image whilst it is pretending to be ‘Super Spider’. Double-click images to enlarge.


Cucumber Green Spider  Araniella cucurbitina sensu lato

Cucumber Green Spider Araniella cucurbitina sensu lato

Cucumber Green Spider Araniella cucurbitina sensu lato

© Peter Hillman ♦ 26th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Ground Wolf Spider


Trochosa terricola – This male with his darkened front legs was attracted to the light of my moth trap. It is a species I have not seen in the garden before. If you want to learn more about this spider please click on the link below. Double-click images to enlarge.

Ground Wolf Spider page »


Ground Wolf Spider Trochosa terricola

Ground Wolf Spider Trochosa terricola

© Peter Hillman ♦ 9th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Pirate Wolf Spider


Pirata piraticus – This is a small juvenile, and an exciting new find for me. They live on the water’s edge, and can walk and hunt on the water with water repellent legs. If you want to learn more about this spider please click on the link below. Double-click images to enlarge.

Pirate Wolf Spider page »


Pirate Wolf Spider Pirata piraticus

Pirate Wolf Spider Pirata piraticus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 23nd April 2020 ♦ Local pond, South Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


A Rare Male


Goldenrod Spider (Misumena vatia) – I see the female plenty of times around the garden, but hardly ever the male. This one must have been real hungry perched on the edge of a petal trying to grab passing flies.


Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia male

Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia male

© Peter Hillman ♦ 20th May 2018 ♦ Rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Puppy Dog Eyes


Pseudeuophrys lanigera – Me and Mike Powell (you should really go and check out his fabulous blog ‘My Journey Through Photography’ right now!) We know some folk get a little creeped out by these things … but who could fail to be moved by the cute little puppy dog eyes on this very small jumping spider? Double-click images if you really want to.


Pseudeuophrys lanigera

Pseudeuophrys lanigera

© Peter Hillman ♦ 18th May 2018 ♦ Living room ceiling, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Garden Spider


Araneus diadematus – This was a relatively small Garden Spider which was hanging around on a fence panel at the bottom of the garden. I am always taken by the intricacy of their webs, but it looks like this one has had one or two problems. Double-click image for a closer look.


Garden Spider Araneus diadematus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 21st June 2019 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Not One For The Squeamish


Wolf Spider (Pardosa sp) female with spiderlings. They always like to warm themselves on my decking. Now you know want I’m going say next, don’t you? It’s about double-clicking … if you wanna get closer … but you don’t have to … maybe this is close enough?


Wolf Spider Pardosa sp female with spiderlings

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 16th June 2019
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


That Plant Pot Again

Philodromus

This is but a small plant pot, and I know you may think this odd, but I just grow a clump of moss in it all year round and nothing more. It appears to attract some varied wildlife (especially if you lift it up and look underneath it) and this Philodromus sp. crab spider was one of them. I spotted it yesterday whilst working the garden, and it appeared to be in a bit of a state of confusion, poor thing, as it kept going round and around the top edge of the pot.

Double click if you wanna get closer…

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Moss Becomes A Jungle

Clubiona sp.

I was photographing another species of spider on a plant pot (a lot seems to happen on this plant pot for some reason?) and this one came along. I think it is a young Clubiona sp. and it was so small it was getting lost amongst the moss leaves.

The darn thing would not keep still hence it is not as sharp as I would like.

Double click if you wanna get closer…

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

The Alien

Garden Spider Araneus diadematus

… not really … just the Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)

Yep … if you really, really wanna … feel free to click on the image to enlarge and click again to get even … (deep scary voice here) … closer …


July 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Join The Clubiona

Clubiona sp.

Clubiona sp.

Clubiona sp.

I found this little Clubiona sp. of spider under my green recycling bin hatch.

Oh … do not click twice on the top full face image unless you really want this nice spider right in ‘your’ face ….


July 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Zebra

Zebra Spider Salticus scenicus

These Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus), always appear to be quite territorial, and I only ever see them around the outside of my shed and garage. And boy do these little jumping spiders jump!

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer on the images …

July 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

The Crab, The Bee And Three Flies

Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia

This mighty female crab spider (Misumena vatia) grabs itself a nice bee for lunch and these three little freeloader flies want their piece of it as well.

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer … only if you really want to.


July 2019, local field, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Caught In A Deadly Trap

Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia

I have never seen anything quite like this before. A butterfly snared by a crab spider.

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.


July 2019, local field, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

On The Edge … Again

Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer … only if you want to look her in her many eyes!


This is the crab spider Misumena vatia, and a lovely female on the edge of one of my flowerpots.

June 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

In Death’s Embrace

Goldenrod Spider (Misumena vatia)

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …

A sweat bee snared by a Goldenrod Spider (Misumena vatia). June 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Getting A Room

Sitticus pubescens

Now this little spider wasn’t in the green recyling bin, but on the wall of my study. I took it outside to take some snaps.  It is one of the ‘Jumping Spiders’, and do they jump!

Click and click again on the images to get that little bit closer …


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Recycling

Candy Stripe Spider Male Enoplognatha sp form lineata

It’s quite amazing what you can find in your green recycle bin at times. I found this male Candy Stripe Spider Enoplognatha sp. form lineata clinging to the underside of the lid.


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Warming The Eggs

Pardosa sp

This is a female Wolf Spider with her eggsac Pardosa sp. We were kind of playing hide and see for a while as I tried to photograph her sunning herself.

Pardosa sp

Mind you I suppose I would object if I had a giant lens thrust into my face whilst I was sunbathing.

Pardosa sp

Click and click again on the images to get that little bit closer … if you dare …


May 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Where The Hairy Meets The Hairy

Hairy legs and hairy leaves, this is where Pardosa sp (possibly Pardosa amentata the Spotted Wolf Spider) meets Bugle Ajuga reptans. This is the darker male of the spider species, and you can just about make out its large dark palps at the front. I see a lot of these at the bottom of the garden this time of the year and throughout the summer months.

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer if you wish …


April 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.