I know the biggest danger of having a blog is getting tired, and abandoning it after a while…Well, I can reassure you, it is not the case for Naturanaute!
The first weeks in my new job have been quite mind-consuming (I love it though) and I have fallen behind in my blog posts…so now, I am going to try and catch up.
Two interesting encounters that I wanted to share with you!
The first one comes from my home in North-Eastern France, and dates back to the end of August. While watering the garden at the end of the day, my father discovered this large beauty, warming up on the paving stones.
At first, this made me think to a Praying Mantis, the large, exotic-looking, deadly predator.
But praying mantises are only found in warm, dry, mediterranean scrub, right?
Well, the answer is NO! The Praying mantis (Mantis religiosa), which is easy to recognize because of the black spot on its front legs, is more common in Southern Europe, but it is now found in Northern Europe, as high as the Netherlands!
Measuring between 5 and 8 cm, it bends its spiny front legs “like a prayer” while waiting for its preys (all sorts of insects : flies, beetles, aphids, moths…).
The female is also very famous for its sexual cannibalism behaviour (i.e eating the male after mating). Studies have shown that it happens mostly in captivity/ food stress conditions, in which case the male is a good food source!
The second encounter (also a large one) will make arachnophobes scream!
Meet the House Spider, Tegenaria gigantea, which, as its names state, is very large and loves houses. I found two of these in my attic, with a legspan of 8-9 cm. The palps (hairy, inflated appendages near the mouth, used to transfer sperm to the female) are club-shaped here, so it’s probably a male.
Handling these beasts is not for the faint-hearted
Before crushing them with a newspaper or a slipper though, remember that like many spiders, Tegenaria gigantea is a precious ally to gardeners. It feeds on insects like flies, ants, mosquitoes…and also slugs!