The other day I was speaking to Victoria Grehan of Musselburgh.
Knowing of my fascination for all things wild she showed me a photograph on her phone. I was amazed to see a spider tackling a wasp the same size as itself!
She said the wasp was kicking and buzzing as the spider wrestled with it and slowly dragged it into the gas meter box attached to the wall of her house. After few minutes she opened the gas box and the spider was in there along with the now dead wasp.
As so often happens in nature, this sighting poses more questions than it answers. Are spiders immune to wasp venom, or just expert at not getting stung? For that matter, was it the wasp which attacked the spider? If so, are wasps immune to spider venom?
One clue is the fact that this epic struggle took place in the middle of October when many common wasps are dying off. Perhaps this one was on the ground as the changing season slowly drained its strength. Or maybe the opportunity of such a large meal was just too much for the spider to resist at a time when flies and other more familiar spider fare are getting scarce?
Around that time there was a lot of sensationalist media tosh about False Widow spiders taking over the UK – Despite the fact that False Widows are not found in Scotland at all, I received several calls from folk convinced they had one in their house.
Even Victoria was convinced her wasp killing superspider must be a False Widow.
Fear not, it is a common garden spider of the Amaurobius family and is not likely to be mugging innocent Musselburgh pensioners as some the press would have you believe.
Many thanks Victoria, a fascinating picture and story.