The Ladybird Spider (Eresus sandaliatus) is a species of spider found in Britain.
The male of this small species has a distinctive red abdomen, with 6 black spots on it, which gives it it's name. The thorax is black with white speckling, and the legs are black with white bands. The females are much larger, and have a dark blue abdomen. The thorax is also black with white speckling, but the legs have very little white on. The female reaches 16mm while the male reaches 10mm.
This species live in vertical burrows which is lined with silk. They produce very fine silk as well as the normal silk, which, when fresh, looks bluish. This species feeds on a range of insects and spiders, including large species like the Green Tiger Beetle and Violet Ground Beetle. While usually an ambush predator, this species has been known to ambush prey. It appears that the female releases pheromones which the male reacts to. The female can lay about 80 eggs, which will feed on fluids regurgitated by their mother. The mother will not hunt during this period.
Range & HabitatEdit
This very rare species is also known as E. niger or E. cinnaberinus, and is restricted to few sites in Britain. A heathland species, this small spider is found on few Dorset heaths, and is only found in Dorset, but there are sightings from elsewhere such as Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. Dorset is the only county which it has been positively recorded.
History & ConservationEdit
This species was first discovered in Britain in 1816, and from then till 1906 only 7 specimens were found. As alot of Dorset's heathland was lost later, it appeared that any population of this species would be lost from Britain. It was thought to be extinct for 70 years until it was rediscovered in 1980. This species is classed as a Red Data Book species and as endangered. There have been several breeding programmes to re-enforce the population, in case of an event which could make the species extinct in Britain, such as a fire. Conservation efforts include captive breeding, linking suitable habitats, producing more habitat and cutting back plants which will over-grow the heathland (such as Rhododemdron).