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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

21 August, 2010

Wasp Spider (Agriope bruennichi)

Here on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset we have extensive areas of heathland; indeed most of the remaining areas of this unique habitat are to be found down here.

Dorset heathland is home to a range of creatures that are quite rare elsewhere and the wasp spider is one of them. Not easy to see, but not hard to find, wasp spiders like heather, scrub and rough pasture to build their webs which have this distinctive zig-zag down the middle.

The spider itself is a striking animal in appearance with its distinctive yellow, blue and black stripes. The female is much, much larger than the male (but then that is quite common in spiders).

This creature is right at the northern edge of its range here on the south coast, being more common in Europe, but it has spread and, having been quite rare 20 years ago it is now well established and quite common in this area of Dorset. I photographed this one on Hartland Moor, a National Nature Reserve just outside Wareham but I have seen them in several places where the habitat is right.