Friday, 30 October 2015

Fen Raft Spider (courtship)

Staying on the subject of the Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius),  I was able to observe some courtship behaviour on 19th September 2015.

Whilst  watching a basking female, I noticed a male in the shadows cautiously approaching her.

The male gently strokes her legs as he slowly moves closer and the female starts to perform a bobbing motion (below)

The female is not responsive and after about 10 minutes she moves quickly away (below)

The male comes out into the open to look for the female for a short time before wandering back into the shadows (below)

The female has returned to her nursery web duties, thus probably explaining her disinterest in the male (below) 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Fen Raft Spider

This year I was keen to seek out and observe the Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius) on Pevensey Levels. In September, I started following the fortunes of a particular female which was easily recognised by a pale patch on her carapace.

I first saw her on 19th September 2015 when I found her basking in the sunshine with her egg sac.

On 2nd October 2015 I found her standing guard over her nursery web. The mass of spiderlings can
 clearly be seen within the web and the remains of the empty egg sac can just be seen behind the grass blade to the right of the spiderlings.

On 20th October 2015 I found her resting on a reed blade away from the now empty nursery web. The spiderlings have dispersed and the female will see out her remaining days basking in the late season sunshine.

 I last saw the female on 22nd October 2015 basking in the watery sunshine. She has probably raised two broods during the summer.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015


East Sussex is blessed with a great variety of natural habitat, from the heathland of Ashdown Forest to the coastal levels of Pevensey and Rye, not to mention the chalk grassland of the South Downs and the semi-ancient woodlands of the Weald.

At the tail end of the season, I am drawn more and more to the flats of Rye and Pevensey where insect activity can continue into November in good weather.  Nearing the end of October on Pevensey Levels, a Comma (Polygonia c-album) was found roosting on a dead tree stump and I watched a female Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) laying her eggs on grass blades. 

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) (ova on grass sp.)