Friday 9 October 2009

Watch out! Tegenaria males about

It's that time of year again. Come early autumn, large, long-legged, fast spiders take you by surprise crawling across the living room, or alongside skirting boards or, better still, greeting you when you are getting in the bath - where they have fallen the previous night. They are house spiders from the genus Tegenaria. It is not a large genus, with only 11 species in Northern Europe, but they include the largest spider in the UK, the Cardinal spider Tegenaria parietina, which can reach 14 cm across its legs (see the proof here). Tegenaria are remarkably difficult to identify to species level, something I find quite frustrating. Forget about it with the females (unless you capture them and closely examine their genitalia). Even with relatively close shots of male palps identification is difficult. You have to content yourself with Tegenaria sp. Females usually keep to their web on hidden, dusty corners around houses or under beds. The wandering house spiders of the autumn are actually males in search of females.
This one stayed on a skirting board for a whole day a few days ago.
I got a close shot of the palps of this other male, three years ago to the day.

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