Friday, August 24, 2012

From eggs to...well, eggs!

I did promise to keep you updated on the news of my 'gals' (Giant African Land Snails) and I have to report that, despite an anxious wait, like a parent-to-be, not one of the eggs have yet produced baby snails.
It's now just a touch over 3 weeks and so, I suppose there's a little time yet before we can say for sure that they've failed.In fact, one care-sheet I have obtained states anything between 2-6 weeks to hatch. I'll let you know if anything exciting does occur over the next few days.

I did however manage a short little video showing how these creatures move around. Shot through the glass of the tank, it shows one of the snails climbing the side by means of this undulating/rippling movement.
(Apologies for the noisy kids in the background, I forgot to remove the sound before uploading the video)

Click arrow to begin video

Whilst on the subject of molluscs-this year may have been awful for butterflies and some bugs and insects but slugs and snails seem to be the winners regarding conditions needed for reproduction and even survival.

Arion ater/hortensis

Now here's the thing-I thought I knew exactly the species of slug that I found in huge numbers in the garden following recent rain. It's the large red slug-Arion ater isn't it? I checked my reference book and read the following: Large Red Slug- Widespread and common throughout Britain, especially in gardens.Orange-red in colour. Yep! That fits. 

End of story? Oh no! Double check with the Internet now just to be sure...............Erm....err... "Computer says no"

"What?"........  Arion ater: The European Black Slug..."Ugggh!" Two closely-related species are Arion rufus and Arion lusitanicus,and they can only be told apart from A.ater by dissection. "Riiiiiiiight!"  Best read on then and see if there's a logical explanation? There was...

As its common name suggests, it is usually black in colour, although considerable variation does exist, ranging from chestnut brown and orange to pale grey or cream. In general, slugs in northern England and Scotland are jet black, while in the south of England the orange forms appear to be more common - the colour variation is thought to be due to differences in ambient temperatures.


A closer look-have you had your tea?

Having cleared that up, I now have to consider that these may well not be ater at all but hortensis? Why so? Because after further research, it does seem to fit the description/photos better.....


As we edge ever closer to September,we are fast approaching what I like to refer to as 'spider-time'. That time of year when spiders not only seem to come into their own, but also, into the house!

Misumena vatia
The one pictured above is unlikely to do so though-Misumena vatia or as it's sometimes referred to 'The Goldenrod Crab Spider' is a flower loving spider with the ability to change colour to some degree, depending on the flower it's sitting on. Although it looks hard as nails in this photo, it's actually not a macho male but a pretty little female. 

Click on any photo for a larger view
House Spider
The house spider (Tegenaria species) on the other hand, would hardly dare to live anywhere else given its name? I think it's probably safe to say that these     spiders are actually living with us all year round. It's just that now they are fully grown making them more obvious ,and now is also mating time- therefore you're more likely to spot one stuck in the bath where it has fallen whilst actively seeking a partner to mate with-well, we've all done that at sometime or other?

Araneus diadematus
And so, if the tegenaria species of spider live in the house, where then do we think the araneus species, or 'Garden Spiders' live? Would you like to phone a friend? Oh, you'd like to use your 50/50? O.K. Computer, take away two of the choices please....."

The thing about being called garden spiders though is that they don't actually know they're supposed to stay in the garden, how could they? They don't read!
And so, the one report I've read of somebody being bitten by one. Yes, that's right...bitten by one, reads: Bite report-on the arm,while in bed.Felt nausea,the arm swelled badly for 3 days.

Yet another sure sign that the year is disappearing fast is the emergence of the dock bug nymphs. I usually manage to spot the early instars and if I'm really lucky a first instar-however, this year, I seem to have missed those but did find what I reckon is probably a 2nd or 3rd instar...

Coreus marginatus-A Dock Bug nymph

I also came across the eggs on one of my recent walks-I think these will be green shield-bug eggs but I'm not sure they are going to emerge now. I have checked them for several days and there has been no change and to me they just don't look right. No doubt I'll be proved wrong but I'll be sure to admit it if I am, so watch this space.

Bug eggs
We seem to have come full circle now, starting with eggs and ending with eggs. That must be as good a place as any to call time on this particular entry.
I have a couple of interesting things lined up for future entries and so I'll do my level best to be back really soon.

Until then next time then...


  1. A good read as usual.

    Definitely starting to move into spider season now. I'm seeing house spider males zipping across the floor - which can be a bit startling, especially for my daughter who hasn't quite got my love of spiders.

  2. Thanks Rachel. Yes,I think it's the speed that frightens some of us? I have to say that I was a real arachnophobe until I began photographing them, not sure I'm completely cured but much better thank-you!


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