Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Stretch spider by the pond

I spent some time in the wildlife garden this morning looking and photographing pirate wolf spiders (post to follow) and watching pond skaters in the pond. I had noticed a pair of legs coming from under a yellow flag leaf, hugging it and I decided to inspect. As I turned the leaf I spied a large, wonderful female stretch spider of the genus Tetragnatha. The spider had its front and rear legs stretched to the front and rear, and held onto the leaf with her middle legs. She walked up and down the leaf, rearranging her silk threads, which I had possibly dislodged. She was quite a large sized and very colourful spider, with yellow and red stripes on her elongated abdomen, it looked so exotic and tropical!
  Out of the six British species of Tetragnatha, two are larger and more common and one of them associates with water, T. extensa, although detailed genital examination is needed for a secure identification.
 Tetragnatha have very large jaws, and the males using their modified jaws to lock the female's in place - and keep out of danger - when mating.
 You can see the folded fangs in this shot
And this is a scanned figure from Bristowe's The World of Spiders (1958), drawn by Arthur Smith, demonstrating the locking mechanism (male at the bottom)





I took this shot to give you an idea of the size of the spider

For a wonderful account of the mating behaviour and natural history of these spiders, go to the Spiderbytes blog.

2 comments:

Angela said...

I saw one of these by the pond in our garden earlier and had no idea what it was, google led me to your blog post so thank you for helping me to identify it!

Africa Gómez said...

Thank you Angela!