Thu 30/06/17

14-spot ladybird Propylea 14-punctata (or quatuordecimpunctata if we're doing it properly)
14-spot ladybird Propylea 14-punctata (or quatuordecimpunctata if we're doing it properly)

So here is my 6th ladybird species of the year – the 14-spot. This small, cream and black species is dead common, but hits the street much later in the season than the 2-spot, 7-spot and harlequin. Most of the spots become smeared into dashes.


OK, I’m a bit obsessed with Segestria florentina at the moment; the big, black, scary spider that appeared on these shores at least as far back as the 1840s, and is therefore most plentiful in seaport towns. It’s as common as anything in Gravesend on the Thames estuary, and I find them all over the place in my road and at work; they rarely come indoors for some reason, preferring to inhabit crevices in exterior brick or stone work. They are as large in the body as a full-grown house spider, but generally with shorter legs, and with a distinctive metallic green tinge to the fangs which shows up in certain lights; the bite is reportedly comparable to a bee sting. Anyway, I found one peering from its lair on my way home from work, but because it was bright outside and dark in the lair, I wasn’t able to get very good photos, even though I could see the light glinting off its green fangs and silver eyes. I ended up taking one with flash, but it’s a bit blurred. I tried to tease the thing out by stroking the outside of its web with a very long grass stem, but all the spider did was retreat slightly.


I currently have two large and one small Segestria inhabiting crevices around my front door at home. In fact there may be more, as my wife believes there are some in the airbrick under the door. In any case, I found this little spider crawling up the drainpipe. I don’t think it would have been so calm if it had realised there was an alert a few inches away.


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