Richmond Park Diary August 2018
Wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi):
This time of year is when our 8-legged friends start to show up everywhere. However not all of them are as colourful and distinctive as the female wasp spider, which measures 14-17mm, has yellow, black and white stripes across the body and stripy legs, and mimics the colouration of a wasp, hence its name! The male is pale brown and much smaller, measuring only 4-6mm. It is however harmless and related to the Common garden spider so its appearance is actually a defence mechanism to ensure predators stay away.
It was first recorded in England in the 1920’s and believed to come from the continent but the Wasp spider is now found across southern England, mainly in grasslands and heathlands, including Richmond Park. Wasp spiders also have unique webs, which are large and orb-shaped and the web decoration or stabilimentum, as it’s called, has a single white zig-zag pattern of silk running through the centre of it.
Interestingly, it is claimed that E.B.White came up with the idea of a writing spider for his book Charlotte's Web after observing stabilimenta in a spider web. This particular zig-zag shape and design is created to reflect UV light and attract pollinating insects such as flies, bees and moths. However grasshoppers form the main food item and when prey is caught, they are quickly immobilised and wrapped in silk. Both sexes mature in the late summer so now is the perfect time to see them!
The Mission: Invertebrate team will be bringing the learning to you and coming to Richmond Park on Thursday 23 rd August from 11am to 3pm at Pembroke Lodge. You will have the opportunity to get close to nature and learn more about the wonderful world of invertebrates that thrive in the Park, as there will be bug trails, interactive story-telling, creative craft activities and invertebrate missions galore. No booking is required and all the activities are free so come along and join in the fun!
Bracken dominates large areas of the Park so we will be continuing to cut, spray and roll using horse-drawn bracken rollers throughout August. Bracken has the ability to smother more sensitive habitats such as the acid grassland areas so this work helps to control its spread, ensures other species are able to establish and prevents a dominant monoculture of bracken from establishing across the Park.
Green Flag Award
Last month Richmond Park was awarded a Green Flag Award for the eleventh year running. The Award is given in recognition of achieving the international standard for parks and green spaces. Richmond Park received some of the highest possible scores, being placed at the top banding for most categories, which reflects positively on all the excellent work that is carried out by The Royal Parks staff, contractors, concessions and volunteers.
The male deer, which are the fallow bucks and the older stags, are currently marking their territories and cleaning the velvet off their newly-grown antlers by rubbing or fraying as its known, on trees and shelters. The antlers are fully-grown so the 'velvet' covering them becomes redundant. It dies and shreds and the deer thrash their antlers against vegetation to rub it off so the deer may be seen briefly with blood stained tatters of skin dangling across their antlers or faces. Please keep away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph them at close range.
Park Road Closures
The Park will be closed to traffic all day on Sunday 16th September for the Descente London Duathlon / RUN10 event.
Richmond Park Open Day
This year Richmond Park will be holding an Open Day on Sunday 23 rd September from 11am to 4pm. It will be packed full of fun things to see and do and an opportunity to find out what goes on behind the scenes to manage this National Nature Reserve.
Please take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time