Hand-sized spiders are on the rise in Britain having bounced back from the brink of extinction.
Last week, the ECHO reported how until 2010, there were only three known populations of fen raft spiders 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).”
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“The spiders are only seen in the grazing marsh ditches, and are fairly shy, but are easy to find from 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.”
According to The Wildlife Trusts, fen raft spiders are one of the UK’s largest and rarest spiders. They are dark brown with a pale yellow stripe running down each side of their body.
They tend to live around the edges of ponds and ditches as they can walk on water. They hunt for invertebrates, small amphibians and fish.
Fortunately, the spiders are unlikely to be found in homes or pose any danger to humans.
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