Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Monday, 3 February 2014

Early or late?

I was surprised to see a harvestman trundling around in its characteristic ungainly fashion in the boot of my car today.  On closer inspection it turned out to be Leiobunum blackwalli, see here:  I hadn't been expecting to see any harvestmen at all for a couple of months yet, most species having a strong peak occurrence in the summer and autumn.

The spider recording scheme data shows (as best as I can tell) only one previous February record for this species.

It would be interesting to know whether it is a 'late' record i.e. it has survived the winter rather than being an 'early' freshly emerged specimen.  Normally I believe most harvestmen are killed by the first frosts but this year has been so mild that we've only had two frosty mornings. In this very mild coastal location even those mornings were not cold enough to freeze the ground.

Now I am just left with the dilemma of how to record it given that I found it in the back of my car!


  1. I saw one of these (a female) in our Llandaff North garden in January, plus a couple in November-December, so I suspect these and yours are late rather than early.

    We've probably had a few more frosts than you but they've only been slight. Coldest night of the winter so far in our garden was -1.1C back in November!


  2. You are probably right George, this winter has been a total contrast to last year. Hopefully things will spring into life a bit earlier this year (if you'll pardon the pun!) than last year. From recollection we were into May before there was any significant insect activity. Having said that the L blackwalli looks surprisingly fresh with all legs present and correct etc for something that must have been running around for several months in adverse conditions!

  3. Our coldest night last winter was -2.7C, so it wasn't particularly extreme (compared to 2009/10 and 2010/11), it just dragged on (and on, and on...)