Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A ladybird with too many legs

Many years ago I had to produce a leaflet about the management of a heathland site that I worked on. I wanted to include illustrations of a variety of heathland species and one of those that I chose was the Ladybird Spider. In the ignorance of youth (and before you could Google such things!) I had no idea that Ladybird Spiders only occurred on a single site in Dorset and that they had never set foot on the site that I was managing!

Ever since my error was pointed out to me I have had an ambition to actually see the real thing. Fortunately I have been working with someone who is involved with the Species Recovery Project on Ladybird Spiders so I asked if I could tag along when he next visited the site. It wasn't the best time of year to actually see the spiders as most were deep in their burrows preparing for winter but at least I would know what to look for in future.

I helped out with looking for, and marking, the nests which is easier said than done as many of the nests are very difficult to see. The picture below is of a particularly obvious one.

One way to find the nests is by finding the remains of prey items left outside. The commonest item found was the 'shell' of Violet Ground Beetles and I was seriously impressed that the spiders were taking on such a large, dangerous prey - and winning.

 Eventually I found a female outside her nest.

She is quite impressive but not a patch on the male but fortunately I at least got to see a male that was due to be released on one of the reintroduction sites later in the day.

The plastic container doesn't make for a good photo but I was well chuffed nevertheless!


  1. I know a keen arachnologist who would be pretty envious of that spider. Nice one.

  2. I know someone who's pretty envious because I invited him to come along but he misread Tuesday for Thursday!