Star Species From 2023

This harvestman Megabunus diadema has a body length of about 3mm and its 2 eyes are housed on an impressive ocularium which has exceptionally prominent spines. There is no other British harvestman that has this feature. It is especially impressive when seen through a handlens!

We usually find this harvestman in woodland amongst mosses and lichens, often on tree trunks and rocky banks. But they aren’t easy to spot, especially if they’re not moving. Interestingly, males are found only rarely and females can lay eggs with no need for fertilisation (parthenogenically). Batches of about 30 eggs are laid in leaf litter, and the tiny young harvestmen break out of the eggs by using a projection on their head like some birds (egg tooth). This species occurs throughout Britain and we have records from several sites in Worcestershire.

Although related to spiders, harvestmen are in a different group of Arachnids called the Opilionids, Spiders differ by having  6 or 8 eyes and 2 distinct parts to their body, an abdomen and a cephalothorax. Harvestmen are known to feed on small, soft-bodied creatures such as mites, spiders, snails, flies, mites, but they have also been seen feeding on bird droppings and soft fruits like blackberries.