Thursday, 28 March 2013

Newly created woodland scores an arachnid first for Wales

Rare spider sighting heralds new future for Usk wildlife haven
March 2013. Amateur arachnologists, (spider experts), at the Woodland Trust's newly created wood at Cefn Ila near Usk have clocked up a Welsh first, a breeding record of the rare and beautiful wasp spider.

Out surveying for moths last autumn, biologist Michael Kilner, a volunteer for the Woodland Trust at Cefn Ila Woodland, near Llanbadoc, Usk, noticed and recorded more than 25 of the rare arachnids, including two males. What's more, some were engaged in breeding behaviour. It is unusual to see this, as it is only during a short period, while female's jaws are still soft after moulting, that the much smaller male is able to mate without being eaten by the female.

Wasp spider
Probably named for the black and yellow stripes on its abdomen, the fearsome but beautiful wasp spider, or Argiope bruennichi, preys on flying insects and grasshoppers and has even been known to capture and devour wasps. These spiders are still very rare outside the south east of England but have been gradually increasing their range over the past two decades, possibly due to climate change.

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