Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wasp spiders (Jodie Randall)

Wasp spiders (Argiope bruennichi) were first recorded in Britain in the early 1920s. Today the spider's range has expanded and they can now be found all along the South coast of England. They are rapidly moving inland, having already colonised London and are spreading further North.

The spiders mature into adults in late Summer. At this time the females build their webs. The female spiders exhibit bold black and yellow stripes, but despite their striking appearance the are not venemous to humans. The body of the female can measure up to 2cm in length, while the male is much smaller at only 0.5cm.

This year I was lucky enough to discover a terrific location teeming with wasp spiders. Searching the fields and banks at my riverside spot, the tall rippling grasses mimicked the river's crashing waves in the fierce coastal wind. The black and gold bodies of the wasp spiders swayed violently backwards and forwards on their webs and I found myself wondering if they felt at all sea sick.

One spider became a victim of the strong wind as her delicate web, built among the tendrils of a blackberry bush, broke. I watched in admiration as despite the conditions she began to rebuild her intricate web all over again.


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