Before I get going, a cautionary note on getting over excited about interesting looking spiders… In my previous blog post, I shared a picture of an ‘almost’ mature male Araniella sp which was orangey-red coloured and looked like a credible candidate for the scarce Araniella displicata. My friend, and local spider expert, David Carr, found a similar one on Wanstead Flats a couple of weeks before mine, took it home to let it mature/moult and examined it. It turns out it was ‘just’ a reddish Araniella opisthographa (one of the common ‘Cucumber spiders’).
So, with that warning as a caveat… read on (no detailed genital spider identification here so everything below is simply the art of the possible; probable at best).
David also told me about a small colony of the nationally scarce jumping spider, Salticus zebraneus that he had found and confirmed from one of the copses on Wanstead Flats. On my fourth attempt to find one, and when a rare beam of sun lit up a tall tree stump I found a small Salticus moving in and out of the woody crevices. From the size, markings, and habitat, it is likely (but not definite) that this is Salticus zebraneus. Note that their bigger bolder cousins, like Salticus scenicus are commonly found on houses etc (Salticus sp is common in my garden).
In my last post, I shared a strong candidate for Philodromus rufus – a spider we know is present on Wanstead Flats. Well, here is another very strong candidate but this time for the even rarer Philodromus buxi. This was beaten from Oak. The colouration, the markings on the legs, the fact that this species has been found here before all make this is possible, but obviously not confirmable without Get Det, so I have dutifully submitted it on iRecord as Philodromus sp and added the cheeky ‘candidate for P. buxi‘ in the comments.
I’ve been doing a spot of sweeping and bush-whacking-beating recently on Wanstead Flats. I have been particularly interested in some of the spiders I have found.
Two of the spiders are probably not confirmable by photos, but are also… probably… really interesting and, certainly in one case, nationally rare.
Local-ish spider expert, David Carr told me about an unusual immature ‘Araniella‘ species that he had found on a recent visit. Araniella spiders in the orb weaver family include the commonly found ‘cucumber’ spider with a the green(ish) abdomen (A. cucurbitina and A. opisthographa). But his one ‘looked’ different and more like the nationally rare A. displicata. Anyhow, David is attempting to rear the spider to maturity to double check its identity.
Without David explaining exactly where he came across his find, I innocently tapped a strange looking Araniella sp out of a Hawthorn. I should also pause to explain that in amongst my ‘catch’ was a more typical ‘cucumber’ spider. But, the spider in question looks remarkably similar to photos in the literature and online sources of the rarity, A. displicata. I have iRecorded as Araniella sp., and thoughts from anyone better informed than me are welcome.
It turns out that this Hawthorn bush was really rather productive. Aside from some interesting bugs (Hemiptera), and a few other things, another spider came out of it that made me raise my eyebrows. We are very lucky to get a number of the ‘running (crab) spiders’ (Philidromidae) and at least two of the rarities have been found here by David Carr in the past: Philodromus buxi and P. rufus. Well, guess what? One of my Hawthorn catch looks very, very much like P. rufus. Even the experts agree that it is ‘probably’ P. rufus. Unfortunately for me, but rightly, the spider authorities are an exacting bunch and without study of the genitalia, records of P. rufus will not be accepted.