As the summer months approach and our gardens start to bloom, many of us may fear the idea of coming across a creepy crawly spider. However, British spiders are more interesting than most would think, and studying them a little closer could prove fascinating.
There are over 650 species of spider known to inhabit the British Isles, 30 of which are common and easily discovered. The spiders that most people will come across in their homes are the common house spider (Tegenaria domestica) and the giant house spider (Eratigena atrica). These spiders are usually found in the corners of the room, or in web-filled corners.
However, there are many more species that reside outside in gardens, woodlands, and meadows, each with unique features and behavior. The zebra spider (Salticus scenicus), for example, is a small, jumping spider with distinct black and white stripes on its abdomen. It can be found on walls, fences, and garden furniture, and is known to quickly jump to catch its prey.
On the other hand, the orb-weaver spider (Araneidae) is commonly known for its large, round webs, built in quiet corners of our gardens. These spiders are famous for their large, colorful abdomens, which can be decorated with intricate patterns, and for their peaceful nature.
The wolf spider (Lycosidae), known for their impressive hunting skills, are often found running across the ground, amongst hedges and in long grassy areas. Wolf spiders are large, and their eyes reflect light, making them easy to spot in low light conditions.
British spiders have many roles in sustaining the ecosystem. As predators, they help control insect populations and can keep pests like flies and mosquitoes at bay. Spiders also act as prey for larger animals, important to our local food chains.
It is worth noting that while some species of spider, like the false widow spider (Steatoda nobilis), have garnered a reputation for venomous bites, most spiders are not dangerous to humans. Spiders are shy animals and will often attempt to hide when confronted by humans. It is best to avoid picking up or handling spiders, as they may feel threatened and might bite in self-defense.
Exploring the world of British spiders can be a fascinating and beneficial activity. Appreciating these creatures’ beauty and importance to our environment can help us better understand our local ecosystems, providing us deeper knowledge of nature’s intricate web.