Posted by: Ross Gardner | September 15, 2015

Spiders in the Wall

Has it really been almost a year.  Back to the surprising wildlife hotspot that is Sheerness High Street, having first visited back in last October in search of the wild scorpions living in the crumbling mortar of the dockyard wall.  The scorps were on fine form once again, but so too were the spiders.

Here’s one to well and truly divide opinion, the formidable tube-web spider, Segestria florentina, a fine figure of a spider and perhaps not one for those with significantly arachnophobic inclinations.  Like the scorpions, they are believed to have found their way to the UK on boats and have established themselves near a number of seaports.

By British standards, they are large, with the body length of the females sometimes topping 20mm.  They are a bulldog of spider, thick set and stocky and equipped with a formidable pair of iridescent green fangs that look every bit able to make a meal of the armoured woodlice that also thrive on the wall.  The bite to the human is by all accounts a painful one, but the spiders are shy and prefer to sink back into their tubular retreat than risk staying out in the open.  Not that they get out and about that much.  The tubular web is constructed in a suitably sized hole or crevice and it is in here that they position themselves, on the lip of the opening.  Strands of silk are placed radially from the tube up the face of the wall.  Once the wire is tripped the occupant dashes out to seize its prize.  The one in the picture was tempted out by a dangling torch strap, which it held on to with surprising tenacity.

I think they may be my new favourite spider.

Segestria florentina.  Copyright 2015 Ross Gardner.

Segestria florentina. Copyright 2015 Ross Gardner.

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Responses

  1. I can see what you mean about the size when you spoke to me about this. I still need to visit this wall!

    • It’s well worth a visit if you’re passing.


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