Archivos de Diario para julio 2021

22 de julio de 2021

Species Spotlight: The Labyrinth Spider

Hi everyone

This will be the first in a new weekly series of closer looks, where I do a short blog with some more information about a species that one of our participants has in the previous week.

We're kicking off with the Labyrinth spider (Agelena labyrinthica), a spider species found across Europe. This species is instantly noticeable due to their conspicuous (and pretty big!) webs - they're funnel-shaped, often found a few feet off the ground, and may be constructed over several bushes. When I first spotted these webs I panicked that Wales had had an invasion of funnel web spiders from Australia, but a quick Google search showed me it was the work of our native, and harmless, labyrinth spider. Definitely check out their webs on Google Images - they construct magnificent tunnels!

So let's talk about those webs first. They look striking from a distance, with their long tunnel... but, if you were able (and brave enough) to venture down the tunnel you would be greeted with a series of smaller, more intricate labyrinths (hence the name). The reason for this elaborate construction is to protect her unborn children. Like hidden treasure in an adventure film, the centre of the maze contains the spider's egg sac (more on her children shortly).

The tunnels aren't the only cool thing about these webs. They're also incredibly strong, so much so that 16th Century monks used to layer them to use as canvas for painting. Good luck doing that with your common house spider webs! The webs need to be pretty robust because the labyrinth spider likes to snack on some larger insects, including crickets - you certainly need a strong web to catch a cricket.

As you might have guessed from their prey, labyrinth spiders are one of the lager spider species in the UK. However, you're most likely to see the females of this species (the larger sex, as is the case with most spiders) hunched up in their tunnel, disguising their true size. I was lucky enough to record two spiders venture our of their tunnels to have a fight and/or mate (myself and the British Arachnological Society couldn't quite figure out for definite what was going on, although most likely mating) - you can see the clip here: https://twitter.com/kieranscience/status/1416402569702821894

If it was indeed mating, then the female spider will soon retreat back to her tunnel to guard her egg sac. Now, like any mother, the labyrinth spider wants the best possible start in life for her children. However, like many of her fellow spider species, the labyrinth spider really takes this to the extreme - as if building a sturdy, intricate fortress to protect her eggs wasn't enough, the labyrinth spider mum will then make the ultimate sacrifice as one last act of motherly love.... that's right, labyrinth spiders practice matriphagy!

If you're wracking your brain trying to piece together some Latin and you think "No, I must have got that wrong!".... you haven't! Matri - referring to the mother; phagy - referring to eating! Yep, as her last act on Earth, the labyrinth spider mother will let her babies actually eat her, providing the new hatchlings with a nourishing first meal before they set out in the big wide world! Luckily (if that's the right word) for the mother, she dies before her young hatch, so at least she isn't eaten alive. Always look on the bright side!

Anotado en jueves, 22 de julio de 2021 a las 02:06 PM por kieran-182 kieran-182 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de julio de 2021

Summer Events (and much more)

Hi everyone,

Hope you're enjoying/enduring the marvellous/oppressive weather! Whatever your thoughts on the current heat, it's certainly great weather for spotting wildlife (but don't forget to check the shade for those creatures that prefer to stay cool!). Lots of updates in this post so bear with me! There is news about some FREE summer events around Wrecsam, so scroll to the bottom of the post for that info.

Over the last week I have been on holiday in New Quay (Ceredigion) - I walked a few routes on the Wales coastal path, and visited the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. Basically three days of Wild Watch heaven! You can see what I found on the observations page. I was particularly fascinated by the labyrinth spiders I found (a new animal to me). I made a short video about them on which I posted on Twitter, as well as recording a video of two of them fighting. Here is a link to these videos (copy and paste the URLs into your search bar, as hyperlinks don't seem to be working):

After doing these videos I decided I'd start a NEW WEEKLY FEATURE on this blog - each week I will take one species someone has recored the previous week and do a short blog talking about that species. I will start tomorrow with some more information on the labyrinth spider, so check back soon for updates!

Anyway, onto the FREE summer events. We have one this Friday (23rd July) and one next Tuesday (27th July). Both are in collaboration with UK charity Groundwork, whom I have run a Wild Watch event with before. Both events are fun, family-friendly, and relaxed guided tours of local nature reserves, giving you the chance to do some Wild Watch recording in an informal manner. Both events last about an hour and will involve an easy walk around the sites, stopping along the way to explore and record. Suitable for all ages!
The first event is at Plas Power, Tanyfron - link to event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/402589147824518/?ref=newsfeed

The second event is at Minera Lead Mines - https://www.facebook.com/events/1251107758677760/?ref=newsfeed

Whilst I'm at these events, I am taking the opportunity to do some filming about Wild Watch and citizen science in general, so I can share this with you guys to help you learn more about the project. I will also be recording some videos for Ridgefield Park Library's Citizen Science Club in New Jersey, USA! I am beyond delighted that this group are using Wild Watch to help teach their club about citizen science, so a big shoutout and DIOLCH to them!

Check in tomorrow to learn more about the labyrinth spider and, until then, enjoy the Sun!

Cheers,
Kieran

Anotado en lunes, 19 de julio de 2021 a las 04:05 PM por kieran-182 kieran-182 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario