Autumn spiders

Many species of spiders are far more noticeable at this time of year. there is a good reason for this. The most obvious spiders are the web builders of the family Araneidae;comprising of the large orb web builders such as ;Araneus diadematus or common garden cross spider. these are the most common spiders one will encounter in Uk. The specimens seen and reported by people are females often full of eggs.These spiders are an annual event.The females mate on maturity in autumn and lay their eggs usually one or two egg sacks and then they die. The egg sacks hatch in late spring time and the spiderlings are not very noticeable unless seen hatching, there can be up to two hundred per egg sack. they disperse by ballooning.Many species of spider do this to get around. the spider releases gossamer silk into the air often by standing on its head or pointing the abdomen to the sky and waiting for a breeze the animals shoots out the liquid silk which on contact with the air hardens into visible silk.The breeze catches the silk and the spiders lets out more, on doing so it is picked up as the wind carries the silk high into the air. the spider is flying basically and can reach great heights before coming back down to earth.Spiders need to do this to get as far away from their siblings as possible to prevent inbreeding. Many species of invertebrates need to do this , but not many produce silk and fly in this way.the smaller the spider the higher one can travel. money spiders, members of the Linyphia family are often tiny and do it en mass in their millions. When the Araneids get bigger, they are then more noticeable, hence the many reports of plagues of huge web making spiders every autumn.

DSC03846A. diadematus (above)is the most common in town and country but other species occur also such as A .quadratus or four spotted orb weaver, below.

DSC00581Another smaller species is Agalenatia redii, which is common in field,woodlands and heathlands. It is smaller and very variable.

DSC01693There are many great spider species in the Uk. what is not often known about spiders habits is the fact that they sometimes drink sugar solutions put out to capture night flying moths.When sugaring for moths recently with friends of mine, on local heathland, we were intrigued to witness several spider and harvestman species taking the mixture of black treacle and beer.

DSC03155This specimen was taking the solution among three species of spider and three species of harvestmen.

DSC03847DSC03848One can see the treacle as shiny dark area on tree.


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