5 September 2015

Wasp Spider - Argiope bruennichi

"What a beautiful spider!" those words may be a surprise, but take a look and you'll agree that the Wasp Spider is rather special. The bright yellow and black colouring of the female is distinctive and certainly "waspish". She is large (this one was about 5cm across), unmistakeable and with her long banded legs is rather a graceful spider too.

Wasp Spider ( Argiope bruennichi )
Photo M Malcher

We were walking along the River Wey meadows and had stepped aside to find a way past a waterlogged section of path when we spotted the Wasp Spider in the long wet grass. She had spun her spiral orb web at dawn with it's zig-zag pattern called a stablimentum. The reason for the design of the web is unclear, though it is thought it may be to attract prey, her favourite food is the grasshopper.

The Wasp Spider is widespread in western Europe but was only first recorded in the UK in East Sussex in 1922. They have spread across southern England and a new influx of a slightly creamier coloured variant appears to have arrived in the 1990s.

The Wasp Spider is harmless to humans, but the female is deadly to her smaller, pale brown, male partner. Unluckily for him, the male Wasp Spider usually gets eaten shortly after mating.

British Spiders

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