Whilst counting butterflies in the lagoons west of the Rife, a Wasp Spider was spotted. This uncommon, introduced species mimics wasps with its black and yellow striped abdomen thus avoiding predators. It builds an orb web with a decoration called the stabilimentum in the centre which may attract its prey. The female is large, 15mm, but the male is an insignificant brown and only 4.5mm. It tries to creep in and mate with the female without being eaten. He waits until her final moult and rushes in while her jaws, or chelicerae, are still soft so hopefully avoiding cannibalism. Some males actually stop further males from mating by ‘plugging’ the female with their own body! There’s dedication for you!
Found in southern England, Europe, North Africa and Asia and even some eastern USA states, the Wasp Spider appears to be extending its range.