Sitticus floricola Finally Re-discovered

Sitticus floricola Finally Re-discovered

Last year I wrote about Sitticus floricola, the nationally rare bog jumping spider being re–discovered on Fenns, Whixall and Mosses, only to have to amend the blog, because it turned out that the Sitticus species was S.caricis. In some ways this was a more significant find, because not only had it never been recorded on Fenns, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses before, but it is the only record from the whole of mainland Wales, all of midland England and most of the north of England with the exception of an isolated single record in Cumbria. There is a record from somewhere between 1910-1915 near Lichfield, but how reliable this record is I don’t know. Otherwise the distribution of S.caricis is East Anglia, Southern England, and several sites on Anglesey, where Richard Gallon found it.  Sitticus caricis discovered, not Sitticus floricola Re-disovered

A male Sitticus caricis jumping spider, first discovered on Fenns and Whixall Moss by Richard Gallon on 2017

On this Saturday 25 August, Richard Gallon, and Rich Burkmar of the Field Studies Council, BioLinks and now Cheshire county recorder for spiders, along with Andrew Allot set out to search for spiders. Partly to search one compartment to see if a second population of Sibianor larae could be found in the UK. Unfortunately it was not. My role was just to guide people around as my knowledge of spiders is limited, and the only discovery I made was to find an adult female Raft Spider Dolomedes fimbriatus with an egg sac. I didn’t get a photo as I kept sinking into the bog at the spot I found it.  Sibianor larae a news species to the UK

However, Sitticus floricola was finally re-discovered at 3 different locations on Saturday 25 August. This was quite exciting because not only was it the first reliable records since I think 1988, but the first in these areas. Even more impressively, to my knowledge this makes Fenns and Whixall Moss the only site in the whole of Britain, where both species are known to occur on the same site.

Richard Gallon, just after he’d finally found Sitticus floricola
Sieving the contents of the vac sampling
There in the tray is a male Sitticus floricola, showing how small they are.
A crop from the above photo showing the little male S.floricola in the centre of the frame.
Finally a close-up of the male S.floricola above, on some Sphagnum

In addition, other highlights were Heliophanus dampfi, the Bog Sun Jumping Spider, a first for Shropshire, and nearly a first for England if Rich Burkmar hadn’t discovered it at Holcroft Moss earlier this summer. Richard Gallon found Carorita limnaea, a very rare Money Spider on the Welsh side of the border, a first for Wales, which Richard was especially pleased about being the spider recorder for the whole of North Wales. I can’t provide a complete list yet, but overall it was a very successful day. Not least of all because this was the fifth search by Richard Gallon since last year for Sitticus floricola. I might provide an update on the full species list when available.

Richard Gallon (left) and Rich Burkmar (right) on the Welsh side of the border on Fenns Moss.

What this neatly illustrates is how on a huge site like Fenns, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses NNR, that you can’t assume that just because a species is not found at a number of locations that it isn’t present. The Mosses may look superficially similar and homogenous across the whole area. However, there are lots of subtle differences in habitat type.


2 thoughts on “Sitticus floricola Finally Re-discovered

    1. Yes, it was wonderful. Especially after accompanying Richard Gallon on some of his previous searches for Sitticus floricola and failing to find it. We were able to search on some of the wetter areas of the bog, which would normally be inaccessible, it it hadn’t been for the dry summer. It seems that S.floricola likes these wetter areas.

      Liked by 1 person

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