Notes on Enoplognatha ovata sens. str.

enoplagnatha female Copyright: Chris Court
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Question Box by J. E. Dalingwater

From The Newsletter No. 84 March 1999

In mid-morning on a rare fine day in early July 1998, I noticed that the children from next door, Emily, Edward and Louis, were looking intently at something in the holly tree in our front garden. When they spotted me they called out: 'Come and see this spider and wasp fighting each other'. But in the few seconds it took me to reach the scene, the battle was over and the spider, suspended by a relatively thick, 30-40 cm long silken thread, was busily wrapping its victim. The spider turned out to be a subadult Enoplognatha ovata (Clerck, 1757). Bristowe (1958: The World of Spiders) calls T. ovata 'an intrepid warrior', and recalls observing the spider overcoming flies many times her own bulk, and even small bees. But the disparity in mass between our two contestants, a subadult E. ovata barely 4 mm long and a Vespula vulgaris about 12 mm in length, a factor of about 30, seems truly astonishing. This leads to my first question: does anyone know of a greater disparity between spider and prey in any other species? Secondly, is it usual for this theridiid to be suspended whilst overcoming and feeding on prey? It remained in this position for well over an hour, until I collected both it and the wasp in a jam-jar.
Added by John Partridge at 11:56 on Thu 9th Feb 2012. Return to Summary for Enoplognatha ovata sens. str.