Species Account for Argiope bruennichi
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Taxonomic group: spiders (Araneae) - County data
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National map for Argiope bruennichi on Spider and Harvestman Recording Scheme website
The spider was first recorded in Britain in 1922 at Rye, East Sussex (Locket & Millidge 1951) and for many years, seemed to be restricted to a few areas close to the south coast in Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and Dorset. Since the 1970s, evidence suggests that the spider has been increasing its range, probably due to longer warmer summers and autumns, and it is now widely recorded as far north as Lincolnshire. In Essex it was first recorded in 1997, both at a site in S. Essex and at Alphamstone in N. Essex. It is currently frequent in suitable habitat the East Thames Corridor, but has also now established itself in north-east Essex. The large orb webs are slung low down in the vegetation and the adult spider is easily hidden by the surrounding herbage. Grasshoppers form the main food item. The large urn shaped egg cocoon is positioned in the higher levels of vegetation and the eggs over-winter, hatching out in the following spring. Both sexes mature in the late summer, the females perhaps living on until October but the much smaller males living for only a short time. Any form of regular cutting of grassland will destroy the webs and the over-wintering egg cocoons, presumably explaining why large populations seem to be confined to unmanaged rough grassland and waste ground (Harvey et al., 2002). References