We have all seen spiders, and whilst some of us are admiring of them and fascinated by them, others hate and fear them. Spiders are all around us, in most habitats, including woodland, hedgerows, farmland, grassland, gardens, outbuildings, and of course in our very homes, where most people encounter them. Some spiders, like the orb-web spiders, build intricately shaped webs to catch their prey, others, like the crab spiders, stay still and wait patiently for prey to come within grasping reach, whilst others, such as wolf spiders and jumping spiders, are fearsome hunters that relentlessly stalk their prey.
There are around 670 species of spider in Britain, 3,000 in Europe, and 48,000 that have so far been discovered so far, and all of them play an important roll in a balanced ecosystem. Whether they help keep numbers of pest species down of other invertebrates like flies, mites and lice by eating them, or whether they are eaten themselves by birds or small mammals, they play a very important role in keeping a healthy environment.
There is a lot of false information and a ‘mythology’ within media circles and society as a whole regarding these eight-legged creatures which really don’t help their reputation, and most often they are presumed guilty from the outset, judged so and are squished by a rolled up newspaper or a tightly gripped slipper. The vast majority of spiders produce venom which they use to inject poison to paralyse and kill their prey, yet there are very few British species that can actually bite and penetrate through human skin let alone inject any poison. The only time they will do this is if they are threatened or provoked, or trapped in clothing, and even then the bite is usually very mild for the average person, but as with bee and wasp stings, an individual’s response may vary. Complications usually arise from scratching the site of a bite and having it become infected.
Spiders have been on planet Earth for a long, long time. They were here before the dinosaurs, and have survived global extinction events. So it is safe to say they are here to stay, and will probaby be here once we have gone our way in the future.
Clicking on an image below will open up the individual species page with specific information and photographs.
Family Pholcidae: Cellar Spiders
Family Segestriidae: Tubeweb Spiders
Family Oonopidae: Goblin Spiders
Family Theridiidae: Comb-footed Spiders
Family Tetragnathidae: Long-jawed Orbweb Spiders
Family Araneidae: Orbweb Spiders
Family Lycosidae: Wolf Spiders
Family Pisauridae: Nurseryweb Spiders
Family Agelenidae: Funnelweb Spiders
Family Dictynidae: Meshweb Spiders
Family Amaurobiidae: Laceweb Spiders
Family Anyphaenidae: Buzzing Spiders
Family Clubionidae: Sac Spiders
Family Gnaphosidae: Ground Spiders
Family Philodromidae: Running Crab Spiders
Family Thomisidae: Crab Spiders
Family Salticidae: Jumping Spiders
Family Linyphiidae: Money Spiders