Mummy-long-legs

Daddy-long-legs spiderAFTER RESCUING this long-legged spider from the bath I’m afraid that I kept it hanging around in a bug box for a couple of days waiting until I had time to attempt to identify it.

It made a web too fine for me to see and hung there in its temporary quarters. I’d spotted it hanging down by the bathroom sink a day or two previously.

As this spider is brown and long-legged with no obvious pattern on its back I didn’t think that I stood much chance of identifying it but that is where having a shelf full of field guides proves helpful. I soon found it in Paul Sterry’s Collins Complete Guide to British Garden Wildlife.

Its the Daddy-long-legs spider Pholcus phalangioides, an introduced species which has spread in Britain thanks to central heating.  Sterry states that it cannot survive if the temperature drops below 10°C so instead of realeasing it outdoors I release it at the back of the garage by the central heating boiler.

I wonder how long it will be before it blunders into the bath again.

The photograph in Garden Wildlife shows a ‘Mummy-long-legs’ surrounded by her brood of rather cute spiderlings. The bands around the joints on her legs which I’ve shown are clearly visible.

I think that the spider that I drew must have been a female too as she has small palps (the ‘feelers’). Male spiders usually have palps like furry boxing gloves, which are used in mating.

It is also sometimes known as the skull spider its face bears a cartoonish resemblance to a human skull.

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