Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Friday 26 November 2010

The walnut orb-weaver: not always where you think it is

A common and widespread species of spider in Britain (and with females up to 15 mm body-length, fairly large for this country), the walnut orb-weaver (Nuctenea umbratica) is usually found in concealed locations in wood, such as under bark or in cracks in old fence- and gate-posts. As such, it is found in woodland, hedges, gardens and around buildings – anywhere with old ‘woodwork’, natural or man-made. However, the picture below shows that it can be more varied in its hiding-places – seen on 22nd September 2010 at Highbridge Farm, this female was hidden in the head of a common reed Phragmites australis on the bank of the River Itchen. Admittedly there was an old jetty nearby, so it may not have had to move far to find its usual woody crevice, but I’m not aware of any other records of this species using a plant head as a refuge. Has anyone else made a similar observation?

N. umbratica taking refuge in a reed


  1. I encountered my first and only ever walnut orb-weaver inside a Volvo light lens from a breakers yard that was sent to me in the post last year! I currently have a large dark shy orb weaver under my bungalow eaves which only comes out at night and retreats when I shine a torch at it to under the wooden structure, I am trying to capture it and hoping it is a walnut orb-weaver,magnificent spiders!

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