Tetragnatha montana belongs to the family Tetragnathidae or Long-Jawed Orbweb Spiders. According to ref 1 below, this family of spiders is characterised by the cylindrical body, elongated chelicerae and long legs.
There are 6 species of the genus Tetragnatha in Great Britain and ideally microscopic examination is needed to confirm species. The female of this species can grow between 6.5-11mm (male: 6-9mm). Ref 1.
It’s place in the Garden (Likely Resident)
Firstly we wanted to be as confident as possible about this species before we commented on its behaviour. As noted above, there are 6 members of the genus. Ref 1 below suggests the most similar species to T. montana are T. extensa and T. pinicola. However both these have an yellow triangle on the sternum, which the close up of our specimen below does not.
In addition, we have fair reason to dismiss the other three species. T. obtusa is better known for living in woodland and heathland and isn’t shown as being recorded in the Bristol area. T. nigrita, as the name suggests, is a darker animal altogether, including the legs. Where as our specimen has the yellow/brown legs as described for T. montana. Finally T. striata is a specialist species of reedbeds. Again all information provided in Ref 1 below. So all things considered we felt it was fair to record this as a most likely species.
Wikipedia calls this species the Silver Stretch Spider on account of its habit of stretching it’s long legs out in front and behind itself in a stick shape, supposedly as a result of feeling threatened and it does appear to provide some camouflage.
Our record was found in a orb-web (which is the stereo-typical web shape) low down in amongst the oxeye daisy plants near the wetland pond. It feeds on flies and other small insects that happen into its web. Mosquitoes form a large component of its diet and several species of this genus are associated with fresh water.
How to encourage the species to your garden
This species is common and has a good distribution. This affinity to wetland and mosquitoes is reflected in the location we recorded our specimen and perhaps if you can encourage its main food source then you will increase the chances of attracting it to your garden.
- 1) Bee, L & Oxford G & Smith H. (2020) Britain’s Spiders: A field Guide. Second edition. Oxfordshire: Princeton University Press