Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Garden Centre Endemic.

 Periodically on here I mention some of my dabbles in Spider hunting. That's maybe too proactive. Mostly the spiders just leap out in front of me for attention so a photo is taken and I try to identify it. Some reckon that there are only about 10 species that can be done from images but whilst there are only a small percentage that can be identified in this way its certainly more than ten. Even with my amateurish attempts I have still managed about 50 on the list. Fair enough, they are 50 of the most distinctive species, but surely I've not mis-id'd 40 of them.

When they first caught my attention a couple of years back I bought the 'Wildguides' Spider book. A few pages were more memorable than others including this one - 

You can see in the observation tips, this unusually shaped arachnid 'appears to be restricted to Hothouses and Garden Centres'. Bizarre that some wildlife can be 'endemic' to Garden Centres I thought.

The Spider Recording Scheme website notes - Not formally included on the British checklist although recorded in England in the early 1990s in three widely separated localities - Liverpool, Southampton and Reading. The species is now extremely common in greenhouses in the Reading area and is increasingly being recorded further afield. The spider has been found in every garden centre searched in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Hertfordshire and Kent and it has recently been found in a Leicester garden centre where it was fairly common within several of their heated glass houses .

With this in mind, it was a species to keep in my back pocket for those often banal visits to the local garden centre where I might find one in among the conservatory cane chairs and padded knee trays. The distribution map shows they have been found either side of us so there was an outside chance.

Then I promptly forgot about it. Until Sunday.

I took Peggy out for her last bedtime stroll around 11.30pm. When we came in I dried her feet and unclipped her harness in the porch. The ceiling is low in here, and I had been followed in by a moth so I scanned around for it possibly settled. There were a couple of resident small spiders ( Zygiella x-notata) around the windows but on the top was a faint web with something stuck in it. I couldn't make it out, but it was tiny and was maybe a bird seed husk blown in or a shed skin of one of the Zygiellas?I gently touched it. 

It moved. 

As I watched it illuminated by head torch its identity soon dawned on me. It was a Garden Centre Spider Uloborus plumipes!

Wow, well I never. The camera and flash were hurriedly sought and images taken. I cant be sure how a hothouse endemic came to live in our bitterly cold porch but suspect last week's visit to Stanton Nurseries for some garden plants might be the source.

Garden Centre Spider Uloborus plumipes  

 It seems that this could be the first for VC68 if not Northumberland so it has been iRecorded. Its amazing how we can travel all over looking for various rarities and a smart, unusual lifer is living at home with us...

The moth took a back seat but after the spider photo shoot was over, a nice Early Thorn was caught on the kitchen wall and released...


The Wessex Reiver said...

That is impressive. Nice find there. Hope the record is accepted, don't see why not. And a perfect example of moving pot grown plants across the world and what may inadvertently happen.

Stewart said...

Yes for sure Andrew...