Thursday, October 31, 2019

Have any members got a picture of a Male Green Huntsman Spider ?

When reading the excellent article on Poisonous Plants: Wenvoe Field Trip 29 June 2019 by Bruce McDonald in Newsletter 117 Eirian Edwards noted that a “stock picture” had been used to illustrate the article and wondered if that was because no pictures were available to the author or editor from members.

That was something she felt that she could easily remedy as she had some pictures on file from visiting Rhodes in April 2017

Bruce Talked in that article about the link with Harry Potter and the uses that Mandrake had been put to, in my brief further reading I was interested to read how much of a confusion there was in the identification of species (or not depending on your opinion) in this genus.

In one treatment, Mandragora autumnalis is the main species of Mandragora found all around the Mediterranean, in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, southern Portugal, southern Spain, southern Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, being absent in northern Italy and a region on the coast of former Yugoslavia, where it is replaced by M. officinarum. In another treatment, Mandragora autumnalis is native only to the Levant (from Syria south to Israel), the species found elsewhere around the Mediterranean being M. officinarum.

Anyway back to the pictures… In this set you see the following

An overall view of the plant

A Close-up of the flowers

One of the central cluster of flowers

A wider view of the dry Mediterranean environment that they were found in 

and finally  one entitled "green spider on mandrake"

(All Pictures © Eirian Edwards) and used with permission

This then left another mystery to be solved and a quick search on the internet using the term "Green Spider on Mandrake" turned up some images that looked exactly the same and then other pages on the internet provided the following information

Micrommata virescens, common name green huntsman spider, is a species of huntsman spiders belonging to the family Sparassidae

The cephalothorax and the long legs of the females are bright green, with a lighter green abdomen showing a darker green median stripe. The eight eyes are arranged in two rows and surrounded by white hairs.

Males are dark green-olive and have a narrower abdomen, with red sides and a red to red-brown median stripe bordered yellow.

Young spiders have a yellow-brown cephalothorax, with dark marginal and median stripes. Only after the last molting in the following spring the juveniles assume the typical coloration of the adults.

So from this I think we can be sure that Eirian spotted and recorded a female

So what does the male look like… for now we will have to revert to using a “stock picture” which is kindly provided by Luc Viatour / and used here under CC licence 

So … Have any members got a picture of a Male Green Huntsman Spider ?

If you haven't yet it may be getting harder because I noted this comment on distribution in the UK...

"Can be found throughout most of the UK, but a rare species (and probably declining due to habitat loss).  Majority of sightings are in southern England"

if you have we would love to see and with your permission share the pictures

Useful links and references

Ungricht, Stefan; Knapp, Sandra & Press, John R. (1998). "A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)". Bulletin of the Natural History Museum, Botany Series. 28 (1): 17–40.

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