Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wednesday Wildlife – the Wasp spider

It is thought that the Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi) was probably introduced to this country from continental Europe. Its population was previously confined to the south coast but it seems to be spreading northwards. It has been recorded in this country since 1922 but it may have been here longer.

Despite its exotic appearance it is quite common in grassy undergrowth in parts of S England as far north as Cambridge. The female has a body the size of a two pence piece and it’s main prey is grasshoppers. The name is doubly appropriate because it not only has yellow and black markings but the female can deliver a bite as sharp as a nettle sting.

It is also known as the St Andrew’s Cross Spider from the X shape in which it places its legs when at rest – and the Writing Spider – from the zig-zag lines on its web.

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