Friday, 15 July 2016

The Other Raft Spider

I have been out early every morning this week in order to visit a couple of local woods for early rising butterflies. Patiently standing around in bramble and bracken patches peering up at oak trees is not Carol's idea of fun and so before the accusing finger of neglect could be pointed in my direction, Carol and I went for a walk on Ashdown Forest yesterday. 
Some of the acid pools here are home to the Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus), a close relative of the nationally rare Fen Raft Spider (Dolomedes plantarius). The markings of fimbriatus are as variable as they are in plantarius but as far as I am aware, the populations of these two species do not overlap in East Sussex which makes for straightforward identification. Most of the time, with practice and familiarity, I have found that some subtle differences can be seen.
A Barred Red moth (Hylaea fasciaria) was flying around on the heathland and there was also an emergence of Southern Hawker dragonflies (Aeshna cyanea) in progress with several freshly emerged insects drying their wings amongst the pool-side vegetation.
Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus) (female with egg sac)

Barred Red (Hylaea fasciaria)

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

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