Harvestmen in Nottinghamshire
 
Having eight legs, Harvestmen belong to the same order (Arachnida) as spiders. Similarly, they are perhaps one of the least studied of the county's invertebrates, making their current species' distributions difficult to ascertain. Although less studied, they are known to everyone with even the remotest interest in natural history, being commonly found on house walls, fences and low vegetation.
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Known Nottinghamshire species

There are currently around 30 known species of Harvestmen found in the UK, following some recent additions.

Not all are found in Nottinghamshire, but some species known to have a predominantly southern UK range, could yet be found here. One advantage of their study and identification, is that they are commonly found around human habitation, so it is not always neccessary to have to travel any distance to find them.

A Worksop house we visited until recently, produced several interesting species within the confines of a small terraced garden, including a new species for the UK (see Leiobunum sp below) and one recent colonist of Mediterranean origin, is now common on stone walls and buildings throughout the county.

 
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  Species identification

Harvestmen differ structurally from spiders by having a single body, with no seperate thoracic or abdominal sections. In general, the legs of all Harvestmen are longer than those of most spiders. Identification to species level becomes easier through experience, with several key features to compare and look for.

One key ID aid for some species is the 'trident', which is a group of usually three or five steeply conical tubercles that look distinctly like spines. The abdomen often has rows of much smaller tubercles known as denticles, although these are missing in many species where the abdomen is smooth, or are at least very indistinct. The eyes of Harvestmen are large and raised from the rest of the body on the Ocular tubercle. Length of the second pair of legs can often aid any identification, but the position of the legs at rest, means that perhaps the easiest species to identify is the Mediterranean Harvestman Dicranopalpus ramosus, which rests with all legs at right angles to the body in a distinctive manner.

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Nemastoma bimaculatum (Fabricius, 1775)
Found commonly under logs and within leaf litter in the Sherwood Forest area, but should be common in woodland habitats throughout much of Nottinghamshire. It's small size, coupled with the fact that they often do not move for several minutes when disturbed, means that they can be missed. Found as adults throughout the year.
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Mitostoma chrysomelas (Hermann, 1804)
It took us several year to eventually find this small, leggy, Harvestman. With a body length of around 3mm, this is another inconspicuous species and at first glance, gave the impression of a juvenile Leiobunum when first found. The adults can be found under logs or amongst leaf litter and can be found throughout the year. This one was found on Sherwood Heath SSSI and was only the second record for the Sherwood Forest area.
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Megabunus diadema (Fabricius, 1779)
Megabunus diadema is the most well marked and distinctive of all our native species, but its cryptic colouration and small size (3mm body length), mean that it is well concealed on the trunks of lichen and moss covered trees it favours. We looked in many woodlands searching for this elusive Harvestman, eventually finding it in an area of coppiced woodland. This is a fast moving species when alarmed.
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Mitopus morio (Fabricius, 1779)
A very distinctively marked species, which is regularly found on low vegetation (often Nettles) at Sherwood Forest. Probably common in Nottinghamshire and found during the Summer and into the late Autumn.
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Odiellus spinosus (Bosc, 1792)
The three large tubercles of the trident and the distinctive flattened appearance of the body, make Odiellus spinosus quite easy to identify. It is also a fairly large species, with females measuring 8-9mm. This is a Harvestman found around human habitation, particularly sheltered walls, where it can be found resting during the day. Typically a southern UK species, there is one record for the Sherwood NNR. Found throughout the Autumn. The one illustrated was found at Worksop in November 2009.
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Oligolophus hanseni (Kraepelin, 1896)
From our own records, this is not a common Harvestman, with just a single record in our database of this one found at New Ollerton in early November 2009. Generally difficult to distinguish by eye, from some similar species. Probably quite widespread in Nottinghamshire and very much under-recorded.
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Oligolophus tridens (C.L. Koch, 1836)
A very common species of low vegetation in woodlands, found from late Summer to late Autumn.
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Opilio canestrinii (Thorell, 1876)
This is a large and quite distinctive Harvestman. ID is relatively easy as most individuals have at least some orange colouration and dark (almost black legs) Opilio canestrinii is often found in gardens and around houses and is an invasive species, which seems to have replaced Opilio parietinus in most parts of the UK. These adults represent another species found at a single Worksop house. Photographed in August 2010.
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Opilio parietinus (De Geer, 1778)
A large and fairly long-legged Harvestman of gardens and woods. However, it is thought to have become extremely scarce in some areas, possibly even extinct in some European countries, being replaced by the invasive European Harvestman Opilio canestrinii. This one was again found in the small garden of a Worksop house in Autumn 2009, but we also found the first for Sherwood NNR in nearly a century, at Sherwood Heath in October 2009. Found from early to late Autumn.
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Opilio saxatilis (C.L. Koch, 1839)
Probably scarce or under-recorded in Nottinghamshire. A fairly large bodied Harvestman, which was found at Market Warsop in September 2009. Found during the Autumn.
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Platybunus triangularis (Herbst, 1799)
One of the very few Harvestmen found as adults during the Spring. Platybunus triangularis (formerly Rilaena triangularis) is a common species of low vegetation in woods, though recorded infrequently at Sherwood Forest, which was where we found our first in late March 2010.
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Lophopilio palpinalis (Herbst, 1799)
A quite small species, which we have found under logs, but also occurs on low vegetation in woodlands. L. palpinalis is quite reddish in colouration and the ocular tubercle has two rows of large denticles, distinctive under a high magnification. Occurs during the Summer and Autumn.
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Paroligolophus agrestis (Meade, 1855)
This is probably the most commonest species in Nottinghamshire. It is fairly small and short-legged in comparison to some species and is found in all habitats from Summer and well into the Autumn. Often found under loose logs, walls and on low vegetation.
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Phalangium opilio (Linnaeus, 1758)
The male is very distinctive, having two horn like projections. This is a long-legged species which we have only found on Budby South Forest (on Heather) to date. P. opilio is possibly quite restricted in it's Nottinghamshire range. Found from Summer and often well into the Winter months. Both female and male (right) are illustrated.
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Dicranopalpus ramosus (Simon, 1909)
This Harvestman first appeared in the UK in the 1950's and has now spread northwards throughout much of the UK. It is originally a Mediterranean species and seems quite common around the Market Warsop area, where we have found it at several locations. There are records for Sherwood, where it can be found on the walls of the Tourist Information Centre at Sherwood Heath and at the Sherwood Forest Country Park Visitor Centre. Easily identified by the characteristic resting posture. Found from late Summer to late Autumn.
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Leiobunum blackwalli (Meade, 1861)
A common species of the Sherwood Forest area, often found on fence posts, low vegetation (Nettles) and tree trunks, but also found in gardens and house walls. Both sexes are very long legged and the male of this species and L. rotundum (shown below) are very similar. Found from Summer to quite late in the Autumn.
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Leiobunum rotundum (Latreille, 1798)
Another very long-legged species, which seems to be commoner in the Sherwood Forest area than L. blackwallii. Found in similar situations as blackwallii. Found from Summer to quite late in the Autumn.
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Leiobunum sp (Schönhofer & Hillen 2008, Toss 2009, Wijnhoven et al. 2007)
This very long-legged Leiobunum sp was found and photographed at Worksop in 2009, but it's ID remained a mystery until November 2011 when it was identified as the UK's first record of the potentially invasive Leiobunum sp. It's still scientifically impossible to fully name this Harvestman and a full account of it's discovery at Worksop, identification and European history can be found via the link below.
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Unidentified Harvestman species at Worksop in 2009    
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