Many people will probably be glad to know that spider mating-season won’t be lasting very much longer and soon those male spiders will be very few and far between. However, some are very interesting and I recently managed to video of a smallish species called the Segmented Orb-weaver, which has a very neat tendency – the male brings a gift-wrapped prey item to the female and tries to get her to accept it so she will then allow him to mate with her. Here is the video:
Unfortunately this year we had a somewhat cool and overcast July. This has been due to the peculiarities of the weather system which has seen weeks of rain clouds crossing the Atlantic to arrive on top of Ireland. However, there has still been some wildlife to see, and for this instalment I want to share some videos I made. Here is video of a Red Kite, which is a species which was deliberately reintroduced to Ireland, with Wicklow as the focus point:
Red Kites are mainly scavengers, and are huge birds, but will happily take prey too, especially small rabbits. They are the only large bird in Europe with a forked tail.
Now here’s something a little different from the micro jungle, a Zebra Jumping Spider with a woolly aphid as prey. It takes a moment to get the focus exactly right but it does make for an interesting scene:
Also from the microcosm, here’s a little moth you will commonly see feeding on flowers during daylight hours in summer, the Nettle-tap Moth. They are very curious little moths:
Now is the time to see spiderlings emerging, and the most spectacular are those of the orb-weaver spiders. There are several species and they can be hard to tell apart when they’re so young, but I think these in the video below belong to the Segmented Orb-weaver, but there is also a small chance they are Garden Spiders:
But just because you see web tents it doesn’t mean they were made by spiders. Many insects also spin webs, especially caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Check out the incredible web-tents of these beautiful and very numerous Peacock butterfly caterpillars. They feed on nettles exclusively, which is why they are popular with many people. Peacock butterflies also hibernate:
Finally, if you are in Wicklow at this time of year take a look into the shallow streams and you will almost certainly see Brown Trout. In summer they are very numerous in the streams but are not always a guaranteed sighting as they migrate around rivers from shallower to deeper waters and vice versa depending on the time of year.