Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Youth Rangers started work today on creating a mini-nature reserve in the Lewes - the St Anne's Butterfly Bank. We have been allowed to work on a south-facing bank at the old St Anne's school site.
After doing some planning and surveys during 2012 we decided to remove the top layer of soil to expose the chalky layers underneath. This bare chalk habitat is perfect for downland plants such as kidney vetch and horseshoe vetch and we hope to attract the butterflies which use these flowers as their larval food plants. Adonis blue, small blue and chalkhill blue all use these plants and there are populations of these species not too far away on the A27.
While we were working we made an interesting discovery - the amazing purse web spider. This spider is in the same sub-order as the tarantulas; it's the only British spider in this suborder. It was a rather impressive beast and stopped us working for half an hour as we watched it crawling on Ryan's arm and took pictures (click on the photos below to enlarge). This species uses a tube-like web on the surface to catch its prey. It bites through the web to grab anything that lands there and then drags it down into its underground layer to finish it off. Later it throws the remains of the prey back out through the hole in the web, repairs the web and waits for the next victim....
I'm not sure Ryan would have left him on his arm for half an hour if he had known!
photo / Michael Blencowe
Member since: 19th October 2012
The Sussex Wildlife Trust is the leading nature conservation organisation covering East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove.
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