11 September 2012

Yellow jumping spiders

Crystal Ray, who frequently visits Brede High Woods, took these photos of yellow jumping spiders (Evarcha falcata) by the 'Soldier's Seat' on Brede High Heath on 20th August this year.

Although widespread in the southern half of Britain, this species is rare in East Sussex so it is a welcome addition to the Brede High Woods records.

The picture above is of a male and this and the one below of a female:

This species is mainly a woodland spider which occurs in the foliage of trees as well as on lower vegetation such as heather and gorse in woodland clearings.  Brede High Heath would seem to be ideal as it is a place where heath and woodland meet.

An interesting aspect of this spider's behaviour is its sleeping position (yes spiders do sleep).  It hangs on a short thread with all eight legs pressed into its body. This occurs whenever it darkness falls and the spider will adopt this position when in captivity at any time of day if it is put into a dark place.  The reason for this 'suspension' is assumed to be a way of avoiding predators.

The specific name falcata means a sickle-shaped sword and is, presumably, a reference to the spider's jaws.

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