The wood­louse spi­der

Unlike most spi­ders, the wood­louse spi­der only has six eyes in­stead of eight and pow­er­ful fangs

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

Watch out for this fanged friend lurk­ing un­der logs and leaf lit­ter

Wood­louse spi­der Dys­dera cro­cata

DID YOU KNOW? Hunt­ing at night with­out the use of a web, the wood­louse spi­der has some of the largest fangs of all Bri­tish spi­ders, which are clearly vis­i­ble as they project di­rectly from the head. De­spite its ter­ri­fy­ing ap­pear­ance it eats only woodlice, us­ing its fangs to pierce their tough, pro­tec­tive ex­oskele­ton. The wood­louse spi­der has been known to bite hu­mans, caus­ing pain and itch­ing sim­i­lar to a bee sting. It has a dark red tho­rax and orange-brown ab­domen, although the coloura­tion can vary in in­di­vid­u­als. Unlike most spi­ders, which have eight eyes, it has only six. The fe­male is larger than the male, reach­ing up to 10mm-15mm in length. The wood­louse spi­der is also known by the names sow­bug killer, pill­bug hunter and slater spi­der, which are all re­lated to its pen­chant for eat­ing woodlice.

DIET Woodlice, woodlice and more woodlice, which it hunts mainly at night.

LIFECYCLE Ma­ture fe­males mate and lay eggs dur­ing spring and sum­mer. The egg sac may con­tain around 70 eggs and is guarded by the fe­male in­side her silken re­treat. In­di­vid­u­als take 18 months to ma­ture be­fore they are ready to breed. The av­er­age life­span of a wood­louse spi­der is just three years.

HABI­TAT The wood­louse spi­der is found wher­ever there are woodlice, in­clud­ing gar­dens, par­tic­u­larly those with a lot of wood, such as deck­ing. It is dis­trib­uted widely through­out the UK but is more com­mon in the south. Active at night, by day it rests un­der logs, stones and holes in walls, oc­ca­sion­ally ven­tur­ing into damp build­ings.


Oc­to­ber 2017

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