Friday, 11 October 2013

Metellina segmentata, the Autumn Spider

This very common little spider , also known as Meta segmentata, has been much in evidence this year.  As Autumn Spiders they reach maturity in late summer to late autumn so you may still be able to see some.  It's a bit harder to photograph them.

photo - pavouci
 
They weave their webs on any available bit of vegetation.  The web is an orb web, the typical 'wheel-with-spokes' kind of thing.  But Metellina's speciality is to leave a small hole in the middle, and she usually sits astride this hole. 
 

from Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe by Michael J. Roberts
 
I say "she" because it's usually a female in the web.  The male, more intent on mating than feeding, waits at the side of the female's web until the object of his attention has caught a fly.  Then he can safely mate without being eaten.  She's the fatter one in the photo below.  Maybe she's had a few tasty mates already.
 
Photo: ednieuw

Metellina is identifiable by two triangles on her (or his) back in front of the 'folium', that oak-leaf-shaped pattern that so many spiders have.
 
Photo: bug guide    

Usually, in my experience. she perches in the web with her underside showing.  You can recognise Metellina by a dark brown strip, lined on each side with white, which runs down the underside of the abdomen.

Photo: the squirrel basket
 
Happy Autumn to all our readers !

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