A generally scarce species although perhaps especially prone to under-recording through its secretive and elusive nature. It is essentially a southern species, although an old record for ‘Bridgenorth’ (Saunders 1896) may refer to Shropshire.
Status (in Britain only)
The species is not listed in the Red Data Book (Shirt 1987), but is recognised as a Nationally Notable (Nb) species in Falk (1991).
The wasp tends to inhabit woodland, especially that with streams and marshy areas which provide wet mud and clay for nesting materials.
Apparently single-brooded; May to September.
These are most frequently spiders in the family Clubionidae, but there are other records for gnaphosids, salticids, agelenids, thomisids, lycosids, segestriids and anyphaenids.
The nesting behaviour (which is summarised by Richards and Hamm (1939) and Day (1988)) is rather more complex than that of most pompilids and demonstrates tremendous versatility on the part of the female. The nests are built in cavities in a great variety of situations, non-British reports citing nests beneath stones, in stone walls, in tree stumps (often in old beetle burrows), under bark and in crevices of tree trunks, in empty galls of cynipid wasps, in empty burrows of earthworms or cicadas, in old snail shells, in beehives, in an old cloth in a garden, behind a door frame, in a loft and in an old mirror in a garden. The nests may sometimes be mixed with those of other aculeates such as Anthophora bees and Ancistrocerus wasps and, indeed, A. carbonarius may use old nest holes of these species. Females construct small, barrel-shaped cells which are laid on their side. These are manufactured from small pellets of clay obtained from damp areas, such as river banks or beneath stones, and carried to the nest site between the mandibles and a group of specialised hairs on the basal mouthparts. Water is also collected separately, probably to aid nest building. Completed nests may consist of ten or more cells (as many as 34 on one occasion) arranged in a block. These nest cells, constructed prior to prey capture, are stocked with a wide variety of spiders obtained from amongst vegetation. One prey item is placed in each cell. The wasp may fly with small prey individuals (unusual in the Pompilidae where the prey is usually dragged along the ground).
These wasps may occasionally visit flowers such as spurge (G M Spooner, unpublished).
Author of profile
Neoscona adianta female and male
Anoplius viaticus is one of the largest (14mm) and most spectacular spider-hunting wasps, with striking red and black bands on the abdomen. They are found entirely in sandy habitats and overwinter as adults, resulting in their being active from March onwards. This is much earlier than the vast majority of Pompilidae – the only others around in early spring are similarly overwintering species Priocnemis coriacea, Priocnemis perturbator and Priocnemis susterai. The hibernation occurs in deep burrows.
Prey is varied but consists principally of Lycosidae.
Amaurobius ferox, sometimes known as the black lace-weaver is a spider belonging to the family Amaurobiidae. It is distributed in Europe and North America and has been introduced into New Zealand.
The female of this species is around 16 mm in length (excluding legs). It is very dark brown to black overall. The abdomen is rounded and bears indistinct yellowish markings. The male is similar but smaller (length about 11 mm) and more slender. The eggs are laid in a white sac in a sheltered place. The female usually guards the sac until the eggs have hatched. This species has been known to bite man.
Amaurobius ferox is a matriphagous spider, meaning that the young devour the mother after hatching. First she lays a second set of eggs on which the newly hatched spiders feed. Then a few days later she actively encourages her offspring to devour her
I found this egg sack today which belongs to the Wasp spider, a new comer to the UK and one which hasn’t to my knowledge been recorded at Cavenham Heath NR
The Wasp Spider is a very large, colourful spider that is a recent arrival in the UK from the continent and has slowly spread over the south of England. They build large orb webs in grassland and heathland, and attach their silk egg-sacs to the grasses. The web has a wide, white zig-zag strip running down the middle, known as a ‘stabilimentum’, the function of which is unclear. Mating is a dangerous game for males; they wait at the edge of the web until the female has moulted into a mature form, then take advantage of her jaws being soft and rush in to mate. However, many males still get eaten during this time.
(spider Photo not mine)