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Lucky man

I was very lucky to find this male furrow spider, Larinioides cornutus, very shortly after it had emerged from shedding its skin.

 

Walking down a country lane in Somerset, I took a detour into one of the corn fields that had just been harvested - there's something bound to be in here, I thought. For no reason at all I decided to turn over one of the huge corn leaves and this chap jumped out from underneath! He had made a silk retreat and there was a shed skin right next to him so he had probably only just moulted. Furrow spiders are related to common garden spiders and have very similar markings, but are slightly smaller (and build a retreat to their webs, rather than sitting in the middle). Males are apparently similar to females but more clearly and brightly marked but with essentially the same pattern, although they are quite variable.

 

I had never seen furrow spiders before, and then I saw dozens on the same day. Goes to show what happens when you look in slightly different places.

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Taken on September 9, 2012