Have Legs - Will Travel

By John Partridge

Have a look around this autumn for this long-distance traveller - Dicranopalpus ramosus - a harvestman. You can find it in trees with a sweep-net, but for the odinary observer, you are far more likely to notice it in its characteristic pose, as seen in the illustration, with its long legs pushed out sideways, sunbathing (if we ever see any) on a shed, a wall or a tree-trunk.

Just seeing it like this is probably enough for identification, but to make sure, just look at those front palps which branch into two sections -no other British harvestman has palps like this. The colour is beige-brown, probably with some sort of line visible across the abdomen.

This harvestman was first described from Morocco in 1909, then found in Portugal (1948), Spain (1965), France (1969) and Britain in 1957, in Bournemouth. Since then it has continued its travels,with quite a few observations in Worcestershire (5 in 1988, 6 in 1999 and 5 so far this year), and with 1999 records in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

It is probably all through the county by now, but it would be nice to have a few more records to show the distribution. You can pass these to the WBRC through anybody who visits Smite, or via e-mail to records@wbrc.org.uk.

Please include your name, a method of contacting you if necessary, a date seen, a place, and preferably a 6-figure grid reference. (If you saw it in your garden we can probably sort out a grid reference from your post-code)

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