Monday, 13 June 2016

Up Close and Personal !

I first came across the Nursery Web Spider a few weeks ago when I noticed a spider spread eagled across a nettle leaf, what caught my attention was the way it had arranged its legs, the front two pairs held together and at an angle, I have since discovered that they sometimes do this with there back two pairs legs as well, forming an X-shape, although I am yet to find one in this position.

The Nursery Web spiders are from the family of Pisauridae, there  full latin or scientific name is Pisaura mirabilis

The innocuous named Nursery Web spider belies the true nature of this ferocious hunter spider. they resemble a type of Wolf spider, slightly larger and with more eyes, eight in fact, arranged in two rows of four, as you would expect they have excellent vision.

They wait in this characteristic position usally low down in the vegetation until suitable prey appears,  no web required, they chase down their prey and overpower them.

As you can see in the photographs of the specimens that I have come across are quite variable in colour ranging from light tans, browns and greys, some with creamy coloured lines on their bodies, even appearing  quite hairy when seen in close up.

Another characteristic of this family of spiders is that the female carries her eggs in an egg sac, which she carries around  with her until the eggs are ready to hatch, she then forms a loose web under a leaf, or folded leaf where she places the egg sac, and the spiderlings hatch in a place of relative safety, which she guards. hidden close by.

 Now at the beginning of June, I had still seen no Nursery Web spiders carrying their egg sac's, I was visiting Rainham RSPB and was determined to look for this particular spider, after much searching I had found no sign of any egg carrying spiders, just one large female basking on an leaf.

Then as I was walking through the woodland trail, a spider carrying a large white egg sac on an unknown plant caught my eye,  a closer inspection found at least another six females all with egg sacs, unbelievably all on the same small clump of vegetation,

  Time for some up close and personal photographs.

This was the unknown plant that the Nursery Web female spiders seemed to favour.

I also found a few Nursery webs prepared ready to receive the egg sacs on a few folded leaf tips, one even had a female spider in the nursery web with egg sac, shown below

I know spiders are not everyone's favourite creature, but there's a certain charm about the way they clasp their legs and palps around the egg sac.

It would be nice to find a nursery web with the Spiderlings hatched,  and maybe the female spider close by in the background, not to much to ask for is it ?

1 comment:

  1. Not seen as many of these as last year, when they were everywhere in the long grass.