Hunting for Unicorns
At our December members evening we were expecting to hear from entomologist Peter Smithers with his short talk entitled "Hunting for Unicorns". Unfortunately transport issues meant he was unable to get to us that evening, however he is keen to get his message to us:

Here in the SW we have two arachnids that are exceedingly rare; the money spider known as The Horrid Ground Weaver ( Nothophantes Horridus ) and the Hedgehog harvestman (Centetostoma bacillifererum) both have only been recorded from limestone habitats around the city of Plymouth. In Plymouth they have been recorded from woodlands, quarries and abandoned railway lines.
As we have a fair amount of limestone in the Bristol area there is a chance that these arachnids may be present on our doorstep.

The Horrid Ground Weaver is only active over the winter (November to January) so now is the time to look for it. It has a body of 3mm and is often orange or pink in colour but can also be black. Most of the records are from under stones, logs or debris. 

The Hedgehog harvestman is active all year and has also been recorded from under stones and logs. It has a body length of 2-3mm but the legs can be up to 1.5 cm long. It is often found on the underside of stones as well as on the ground beneath the stone.
However it can be easily confused with another harvestman (Neamastoma bimaculatum) so look carefully. Neamastoma has no spines and only two white spots. 

Next time you are out for a walk take a moment to turn over a few logs and stones (it is surprisingly addictive) and, if you find something that looks like either of these, take a photo and send it to me with the date and location. I will then visit the site and confirm the sighting. 

Email sightings to

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Protecting wildlife for the future
Keynsham Group
Avon Wildlife Trust
Registered charity 280422