Huge spiders that spin webs as big as 10 inches wide are on the rise in the UK after almost becoming extinct not long ago.
Fen raft spiders are one of Britain’s biggest spiders and females can grow as large as a human palm. Thankfully, you aren’t likely to find any of these under your bed, but you may see them in your garden.
The RSPB refers to them as “strikingly beautiful creatures”, however arachnophobes may disagree. The creatures live in ditches and pools, and eat small fish and larvae.
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Until 2010, there were only three known populations in the UK, leaving the species at risk of extinction. But an RSPB project helped populations to “thrive”, and the total population is now believed to exceed thousands of females.
Mid Yare nature reserves site manager Tim Strudwick said: “This is one of the UK’s rarest invertebrates, as beautiful as any, and we are really proud of the part our reserve and our team has played in its recovery. The females are impressive in size, but elegant and quite beautiful, even to an arachnophobe (like me).”
“The spiders are only seen in the grazing marsh ditches, and are fairly shy, but are easy to find June to September when the mature females have their young. They are found mostly away from public access but, for people who do want to see them, the good news is they are increasing and spreading towards the meadows at Strumpshaw where we hope they will soon be visible to visitors.”
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