Worcestershire Record No. 6 April 1999 p. 13
Last year my presentation at Recorders' Annual Meeting centred on looking for Pholcus phalangiodes, the Daddy-longlegs Spider, and a few other species. The three WBRC Pholcus records have now become nearly forty, scattered over most of the county, showing that any northern limit for the species is north of Worcestershire. The other species produced some reports: The Spitting Spider produced records from 1971 (D Oakley) and more recently (A W Reid), but neither suggested an established presence. The Woodlouse Eating Spider was around in large numbers on Warndon before it was built up (D. Goddard), and can be found on Bredon Hill (A W Reid), Cleeve Prior reserve (J Partridge) and in Hanley Swan (M Skirrow); I have yet to find a mature specimen. The green Crab Spider has turned up in a number of places by beating trees, and the Six-eyed Tube Dweller has been found in rotten wood, but never by its 'characteristic' web. Many thanks to all who have responded with information.
The year has seen some 1600 records added to the WBRC database, with 11 new species added to the lists. There are still some 20 species recorded pre-1930 which have not been found recently, one of which was the Cave Spider Meta menardi. The records contain a 1933 entry from T. H. Savory for the Crypt of Worcester Cathedral, and so, with the kind permission of the Dean, John Meiklejohn and I went probing round the crypt and the organ blower room a few weeks ago. As expected, the crypt is now too well lit and heated and no Meta menardi was found. However, we did turn up a first county record for Psilochorus simoni, which is a Pholcus relative, usually found in dry wine cellars near floor level. It will spin round like Pholcus, but more reluctantly - one might have expected otherwise given its preferred habitat!
The grape vine, or should it be the web these days, brought forth a report from M Averill of Cave Spiders at Witley Court, and then 'Bring a Spider' on Recorders' Day produced a live specimen from Hanley Swan (M Skirrow). As I reported at that meeting, some recorders have actually started to examine these specimens instead of just assuming that they are Meta menardi, as some are proving to be the closely related Meta bourneti. Dr Skirrow's specimen has been confirmed as Meta bourneti and as a first county record for the species, which leaves us wondering which species was in Worcester Cathedral in 1933, and have we got both in the county?
'Bring a Spider' produced 25 identifiable specimens, including another county first, Steatoda grossa (Revd J E Cox), and a county second, Nesticus cellulanus (S Micklewright). There were quite a number of Zygiella x-notata (call this the Window-pane spider - it sits in the corner with a signal line to the centre of its circular web, which usually has a missing segment), Amaurobius similis (often found in the cracks between window-frames and the brickwork), Steatoda bipunctata (a glossy brown abdomen with a cream line round the front edge; it likes a right-angle habitat between fence post and wall for instance), and various Tegeneria species ( the hairy house spider). You can often find all of these better on a summer evening after dark if you go round with a torch. Many thanks to all who contributed; I was delighted at the response and the new records - perhaps we should do it with another group next year.
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