This was quite a nice spring surprise at the start of April. I like how variable the patterning and the colouring can be on these spiders.
It belongs to a family called Pisauridae, and there are only 2 British genera.
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April 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman
© Pete Hillman September 2017. Rear garden, Staffordshire, England.
Photograph taken October 2016, front garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
A variable spider, with either bold markings or they may be abscent. The colour ranges from grey to yellowish, to dark brown. Males are similar to females, but they have slighly smaller abdomens which is quite clearly marked. Body length up to 15mm.
The females make tent-like nursery webs just before the spiderlings hatch which she guards. She also carries the eggs in a ball beneath her body which she holds in her jaws. Spiders of this family do not construct webs to catch their food but hunt their prey on the ground, or on the surface of still water. They feed on insects and other invertebrates.
The adults are seen June to August. Found in grassland, heathland, and woodland clearings. The adults enjoy basking in the sun. Common and widespread throughout.
Nursery Spiders are known for their unusual courtship behaviour, in which the female requires a present from the male before mating, an insect wrapped in silk.
Photographs of Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) taken March and May 2014, found in rear garden and near a local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.
It is always a wonder to me when I witness something special in nature which I have only read about or heard about. I knew the female Nursery Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) was a dedicated mother to her offspring, building tent-like nursery webs just before the spiderlings hatch which she guards. She also carries the eggs in a ball beneath her body which she holds in her jaws.
Photographs taken June 2016, local field margin, Staffordshire.