|She's half wasp, half spider. She's Wasp Spider.|
Stokes Field had a nice surprise in-store on my first visit to the patch since returning from travelling, when I stumbled upon this female Wasp Spider that had set up a web in a small area of grassland. This beauty has always been high on the wish list ever since I first read about it's expanding range in the southern counties, but I'd never considered it a contender for the patch list.
Looking at this distribution map collaborated by the BAS, you can see how the spider has rapidly expanded it's range along the south coast and up the Thames Estuary in the last 10 years, originating from just a handful of pre-1992 records. Stokes Field appears to be right on the edge of the London population, bordering a gaping blank area in the species' distribution that covers a good amount of Surrey and inland Hampshire, before records reappear again on the south coast. How mysterious. Where is Sherlock when you need him?