Tuesday 18 October 2022

The Green Meshweaver gets to Hull


Another post on a rapidly expanding species, this time a small spider, the Green Meshweaver, Nigma walckenaeri. All started on Saturday, during the YNU AGM in the University of Hull, where spider expert  Geoff Oxford, showed us a specimen he had just collected from the university grounds, a tiny green spider that is currently expanding its range across the UK and now colonising Yorkshire. We all admired the individual, which had been collected with its web on a leaf. 

The first Nigma walckenaeri record from Hull.

After returning from the meeting, I searched the garden ivy, and since I've been searching ivy and holly, which are favoured leaves to weave it's mesh. Nigma walckenaeri  chooses curled leaves, so it can take advantage of this to hide under its little web. As other regular character in this blog, AmaurobiusNigma is a cribellate silk weaver. 

Today, I took a local walk and came across a magnificent mature ivy, south east facing. I started searching its leaves, wondering if I had the wrong search image in my mind. It didn't take long to find a Nigma.

Nigma walckenaeri  habitat.

There it was! A light-touch web of blueish threads with the green spider sitting, well camouflaged, underneath.
I moved part of the web aside to have a closer look (also top shot). This is a female, with her whole body green. Once I had seen one, I found another, and another, almost every ivy leaf had it's little Nigma in it. 

A male, with its brown cephalothorax.
This individual was busy weaving its web.
I even spotted a male (with reddish-brown opistosoma) on the edge of a female's web.

Until 1993 it was only found in London and the home counties, and it is associated to parks and gardens. Since then it has been steadily spreading north. I'll keep a look for it in the garden!

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