CLICK HERE FOR:  2 - LARGE ORB-WEAVERS,     3 - JUMPING SPIDERS,     4 - FALSE WIDOW SPIDERS,      5 - CRAB SPIDERS       6 - ORB-WEAVERS     7 - SPIDERS WEBS


There are around 680 known species of spider in the UK, with new species being added regularly. 280 of these species are tiny Money Spider species. Many of these 680 species are so similar in appearance that they can only be accurately identified by an expert eye under a microscope. At least 14 species have been confirmed by the Natural History Museum to bite humans if handled roughly, laid / sat on or threaten. However no spiders in the UK are considered to be aggressive or have a bite that is either dangerous or considered to be medically significant to Humans.

It’s time to dispel some myths here. Spider bites in the UK are extremely rare. What is not rare though is spiders being falsely blamed for biting humans. People often wake up in the morning and notice they’ve been bitten by something during the night, they see a spider in the same bedroom and automatically assume it must have been the scary spider that bit them. But the spider is nearly always completely innocent!
There are plenty of parasitic insects that feed from human blood such as gnats, mosquitoes, horseflies, fleas, bed-bugs etc. Spiders however, cannot feed from humans and therefore have no interest in biting humans. They do not want to waste their venom, which they need to subdue their prey. Spiders only bite humans in self defence as a last resort if they feel threatened. So if you’re unlucky enough to sit or lay on a spider, or put your hand on one then it may attempt to defend itself from you. Other than that spiders do not bite humans. In fact spiders play a vital role in stabilising the numbers of other insects that do bite humans and are considered a nuisance, including gnats, mosquitoes, wasps and flies etc.


IS THIS A SPIDER BITE?

In the UK it's impossible for any arachnologist, entomologist or medical practitioner to ascertain what caused a bite.. There are no tests to confirm either way and any suggestion that a particular insect bite is or isn't a spider bite would be guess work. If a bite area looks particularly red and swollen, especially if the wound looks ulcerated, the the wound has probably become infected. These symptoms stem from an infection, and not from the venom of a spider itself. An infection can be introduced either from the fangs of a spider, or from anything else that pierces the skin. Mosquitoes, and other parasitic invertebrates, or even a splinter, can cause a similar effect if the wound becomes infected. Infections can just as easily be introduced by the hands of the bite victim scratching the bite area though. This is why its extremely important to thoroughly clean any bites immediately with antibacterial soap, and avoid scratching or rubbing the bite.

However, as previously mentioned, spider bites are very rare in the UK, especially when compared to bites from parasitic invertebrates such as gnats, mosquitoes, horseflies, fleas, bed-bugs etc. As with any insect bite if the bite area becomes excessively red and swollen or you feel ill then you should consult a medical practitioner, as you may need antihistamines to reduce the body's reaction to the bite, and antibiotics to combat any infection.


ARE THEY VENOMOUS / POISONOUS?

Well the truth is nearly all spiders are venomous. In fact there is only one family of spider in the UK that doesn't use venom to subdue and kill its prey, the Uloboridae family, containing just 3 species in the UK. All other spiders, from the 680 different species found in the UK, are venomous. However, the venom of all spiders in the UK is usually no more dangerous to humans than that of a wasp or bee sting, and none are considered to have a bite that’s medically significant to humans. The possible exception being Steatoda species (False Widows), where there is some debate over whether these should be regarded as being of minor medical significance or not. But even a bite from Steatoda species, whilst sometimes unpleasant, is certainly not dangerous. It’s exceptionally rare for a dangerous species to arrive in the UK as an accidental import, and none such species have ever become established anywhere in the wild here. There is nothing to fear from spiders in the UK.


ARE THERE ANY DANGEROUS SPIDERS IN THE UK?

No, none of the species of spider found in the UK are dangerous to humans. The Noble False Widow, Steatoda nobilis, is regarded as the most venomous spider found in the UK, and whilst their bite may be unpleasant they are certainly not dangerous to humans. There are more than 45,000 different species of spider found across the world, and out of all those there are only four genus that are considered to have a bite that's potentially dangerous to humans. These include the Wandering Spiders (Phoneutria genus), the Sydney Funnel-web Spider (Atrax genus), the Recluse Spiders (Loxosceles genus) and the Black Widows (Latrodectus genus). It's incredibly rare, but very occasionally specimens of these species do turn up amidst imported fruit and goods shipments from abroad, but none are found established in the wild anywhere in the UK. Nearly all species of spider that turn up in Britain, as accidental stowaways amidst imported shipments, are completely harmless to humans. 

Their are some species of spider that are regularly found amidst imported fruit in the UK. None of these are dangerous to humans though. In bananas these include the egg-sacs of Sac-Spiders (Cheiracanthium species) and the egg-sacs of the Ornate Arboreal Wandering Spiders (Acanthoctenus species). These should not be confused with the highly venomous Brazilian Wandering Spiders (Phoneutria species), which are extremely rare amidst imported shipments. Another regular accidental import amidst imported grapes is the Mediterranean False Widow (Steatoda Paykuliana). Detailed information on this species can be found on this page of my website.

Whilst I hope these pages will be useful as an aid for people looking to identify a spider it is worth remembering that many species of spider can vary considerably in colour, shade and markings. At this stage I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the British Spider Identification Group on Facebook for their help identifying new spider species that I hadn't previously encountered and for helping me to gain much of the knowledge I now share on the spiders featured on my website. Particular thanks go to Simeon Indzhov, Tylan Berry, Tone Killick, Esmond Brown, and Verity Josephine, for their continued support, teaching and encouragement through the group.


IS IT SAFE TO PICK UP SPIDERS IN THE UK?

If you're slow and carefully allow spiders to walk on your hand then you can usually handle any species of spider found in the UK without any issues. However spiders wouldn't want to be handled though. Spiders are delicate and easily hurt if you accidentally drop them, or they fall from your hand, so it's best not to handle any spiders really. And if for some reason the spider did get scared and defensively bit a child handling it then that child could be put off spiders for life. It's much better to always use a glass and a piece of card if you need to move a spider, or better still just enjoy watching them where they are.


WHY DO WE USE SCIENTIFIC NAMES FOR SPECIES?

Every known species on this earth is categorised and given a two-part scientific name. The first part signifies which genus the species is assigned to and the second part clarifies which exact species it is. This system is known as "binomial nomenclature". It allows people all over the world to communicate about specific species with exact clarity.

Whilst many people prefer to call species by their common names this practice is open to ambiguity, misinterpretation and inevitably mistakes. For example, the common name "Daddy Long-legs" is often used to describe Opiliones, or Harvestmen, but the name "Daddy Long-legs" can also be used to describe Cellar Spiders (Pholcus phalangioides) or Craneflies too. Common names are not only ambiguous but they often vary from one part of the UK to another, yet alone from one country to another.

One of the worst examples can be seen when referring to Woodlice. In the UK alone the Woodlouse sp. have around 50 different common names, that vary from one part of the country to the next. These include: Cheesy Bugs, Pill Bugs, Roly-Polies, and Chucky Pigs, to name just a few. LINK. Not all species have common names either. Many of the less commonly encountered species are only known by their scientific name. On my posts, and on my website, I try to give both the scientific name, and where applicable, the common names too.

There are many scientific names that I can't yet confidently spell without having to check first, yet alone pronounce, but over time you do start to at least recognise the scientific names when you see them written. It doesn't take long to pick up the scientific names and it allows you a far greater understanding of the species being discussed. For example, one could have learned that Steatoda nobilis is the scientific name for the Noble False Widow Spider. One might then see someone post a comment with reference to Steatoda albomaculata. Whilst one might not yet recognise this name one will instantly be able to associate it as one of the False Widows by the Steatoda part of its name.


PLEASE HELP!

Through this website I'm trying to provide a comprehensive, online, photographic library of all the visually distinguishable species of spider currently found in Britain. Please contact me if you're able to send me a live specimen of any species of spider, found in the UK, that is not currently showing on any of my spider pages. All contributions would be very gratefully received. Thank you.  *email me*


For anyone looking to identify spiders or to learn more about British Spiders, then I can't recommend this book highly enough. In September 2020 the fully revised 2nd Edition of the Wild Guide "Britain's Spiders, A Field Guide" was released. This groundbreaking book by Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford and Helen Smith is the most comprehensive and accurate guide to British spiders ever published and I'm proud to feature my images on pages 70, 95 and 444. This new edition is an absolute must for anyone with an interest in wildlife, especially arachnology. I'm mentioned in the credits on Page 482 along with the other 124 contributing photographers, but I'm delighted to have this website also listed with my name.

The book can be purchased here:  Britain's Spiders, A Field Guide



Female Spotted Wolf Spider carrying egg-sac  (Pardosa cf amentata)

Spotted Wolf Spider   (Pardosa amentata)

The Spotted Wolf Spider is a member of the Lycosidae family which has over 2400 species. They are the most commonly encountered species of Wolf Spider in UK gardens. Several of these species of Wolf Spider from the Pardosa genus live in the UK and they are usually impossible to identify to species level without microscopic examination of the genitalia. Pardosa species are all fairly small spiders and the largest only reach just under 1cm in body-length.

Wolf Spiders get there name because they actively hunt down their prey relying on their speed rather using webs. Spotted Wolf Spiders are very fast runners enabling them to chase and catch their prey. Like other Paradosa sp. the Spotted Wolf Spider can often be found in small groups basking near each other in the sunshine. Females carry their egg-sac at the base of their abdomen held on by the spinnerets. One key identifying feature of Wolf Spiders is the two large front-facing eyes, that are far larger than the rest of their eyes. These large eyes give Wolf Spiders excellent eye-sight.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Female Spotted Wolf Spider carrying egg-sac  (Pardosa cf amentata)




When the egg-sac hatches, the female Wolf Spider carries dozens of tiny spiderlings on her back and under her abdomen for several days.




Female Spotted Wolf Spider carrying spiderlings  (Pardosa cf amentata)




Female Spotted Wolf Spider, Pardosa cf amentata, carrying spiderlings, in my SE London garden, 18th June 2016.




Female Spotted Wolf Spider, Pardosa cf amentata, carrying spiderlings, in my SE London garden, 18th June 2016.




Female Spotted Wolf Spider, Pardosa cf amentata, with egg-sac, in my SE London garden, 3rd April 2016





5mm female sub-adult Wolf Spider (Pardosa Sp.) found standing on the water's surface at a wetlands site in SE London. 16th January 2020.

Identifying Pardosa Wolf Spiders to species level usually requires microscopic examination of the genitalia. These photos could be Pardosa amentata, Pardosa prativaga or Pardosa hortensis.




6mm male sub-adult Wolf Spider (Pardosa Sp.) found at the water's edge at a wetlands site in SE London. 16th January 2020.






6mm male Paradosa species Wolf Spider, found on Whitstable Beach in Kent. 10th June 2021

This male Paradosa sp. Wolf Spider is a member of the "Monticola group". A group of five very similar looking species that can only be separated by microscopic examination. They're also very difficult to identify as they're often found in the same habitat too. The group consists of:  Pardosa agrestisPardosa monticola, Pardosa agricolaPardosa palustris and Paradosa purbeckensisParadosa purbeckensis is the least likely for this specimen pictured above as the males usually show especially long hairs on the legs.




5mm male Black-Palped Wolf Spider (Pardosa nigriceps). Found at the base of Rochester Castle walls in Kent, 18th April 2021.

Black-Palped Wolf Spider   (Pardosa nigriceps)

The Black-Palped Wolf Spider is a common and widespread species found on the ground or on low vegetation in grasslands, heathland, woodland clearings, roadside edges and various other habitats. This species can often be found higher above the ground than other Paradosa species. Females grow to around 5-7mm whilst males are only slightly smaller at 4-6mm. The legs have long spines and as their name suggests the males have very dark pedipalps. The carapace is longer than other Paradosa species.


LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


5mm male Black-Palped Wolf Spider (Pardosa nigriceps)





5mm male Black-Palped Wolf Spider (Pardosa nigriceps)






Female Common Fox Spider   (Alopecosa pulverulenta)

Common Fox Spider   (Alopecosa pulverulenta)

The Common Fox Spider is a another Wolf Spider from the Lycosidae family which has over 2400 species. This is one of the most common Wolf Spiders found across the UK and is usually encountered in May or June, but can be seen anywhere from spring to autumn. Many other species from the Alopecosa family can look identical without very close examination. Alopecosa pulverulenta are typically fairly small spiders with a body length of around 5-10mm, and a leg-span of 10-20mm. Like many Wolf Spiders that chase down their prey, these spiders are very fast runners for their size.


10mm female Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa pulverulenta, photographed at ground level in my SE London garden, 29th June 2023




10mm female Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa pulverulenta, photographed at ground level in my SE London garden, 29th June 2023




10mm female Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa pulverulenta, photographed at ground level in my SE London garden, 29th June 2023




10mm female Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa pulverulenta, photographed at ground level in my SE London garden, 29th June 2023




10mm female Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa pulverulenta, photographed at ground level in my SE London garden, 29th June 2023





Male Common Fox Spider   (Alopecosa pulverulenta)






7mm sub-adult Easter Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa barbipes, found on Surrey heathland.

Easter Fox Spider   (Alopecosa barbipes)

The Easter Fox Spider is a another British Wolf Spider. Alopecosa barbipes are similar in appearance to Alopecosa pulverulenta, but are larger in size. Males typically grow from 7.5mm to 9mm and females usually reach 8-12mm. This species prefers open heathland with sparse vegetation and open chalk grassland sites. Although widespread Alopecosa barbipes are classed as uncommon. 


11mm adult male Easter Common Fox Spider, Alopecosa barbipes, found on Surrey heathland, September 2022.

At 11mm this male specimen is outside of the typical size range for this species. It can be identified as Alopecosa barbipes by the feathered setae on the tibia of leg I. These are not found on the male of the similar Alopecosa pulverulenta.





8mm juvenile Wolf Spider Trochosa Sp. found on low branch of an oak tree in SE London, 10th May 2020

Wolf Spider Trochosa Sp.

There are four species in the Trochosa Wolf Spider genus in the UK. They are larger and stockier than other British species of Wolf Spider (Lycosidae group) and some can exceed 15mm in body-length. Trochosa sp. Wolf Spiders are common and widespread in the UK. All four species are brown in colour with a light brown stripe that runs the length of the carapace and half the length of the abdomen. These markings are easier to see on adult specimens. Trochosa sp. are nocturnal hunters and usually search for prey on the ground. Sometimes males are seen active during the daytime when seeking for a mate. 

LINK 1


10mm male Rustic Wolf Spider (Trochosa cf ruricola) found crossing a pathway adjacent to a stream in north Kent countryside, 20th August 2021

Rustic Wolf Spider    (Trochosa ruricola)

The Rustic Wolf Spider is a common and widespread species in England and Wales, and is usually found under logs and rocks in areas of damp grassland. Males usually grow to around 7-10mm and the larger females can reach 9-15mm. I have observed several specimens basking on dock leaves and other vegetation at the edge of streams. This sider usually hunts its prey at ground level and is regularly found from April to July.

Trochosa ruricola needs very close examination to separate it from the larger and much rarer Trochosa robusta, which regularly grows to a body-length of 20mm. Both size and habitat can help to distinguish these two identical looking species as Trochosa robusta is most commonly found in stony chalk grassland at the edge of cliffs in southern England.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


8mm female Pirate Wolf Spider Pirata cf piraticus. found on low vegetation in a woodland pond in Kent, 31st May 2020

Pirate Wolf Spider / Otter Spiders (Pirata Sp.)

The Pirate Wolf Spider is a semi-aquatic species found on or near water. The Pirate Wolf Spider often sits at the water's edge with its front legs in the water. Using the hairs on its legs it has the ability to sense the smallest of vibration from its prey. When movement is detected it dashes out across the top of the water and grabs its prey. The hairs on its legs give it the ability to float on top of the water without breaking the water's surface. There are six species of Pirate Wolf Spider in the UK, and five of these species favour wet habitat. These spiders sometimes hide themselves away in vertical tubular webs. On occasion these webs have openings at water level allowing them to dash out and catch prey or disappear under water to evade capture themselves. Pirata piraticus, the most common of the UK Pirate Wolf Spiders in the UK, have a body-length of up to 6.5mm for males and 9mm for females. Pirate Wolf Spiders can be mistaken for Raft spiders at first glance. However Raft Spiders are larger in size and lack the two large and prominent front-facing eyes found on Wolf Spiders.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


8mm female Pirate Wolf Spider Pirata cf piraticus. found on low vegetation at a wetlands site in SE London / North Kent, 14th March 2021





8mm Pirate Wolf Spider Pirata cf piraticus. found on low vegetation in a woodland pond in Kent, 31st May 2020




Pirate Wolf Spider Pirata cf piraticus. found on low vegetation in a pond in Kent, 6th July 2020




Wolf Spider, Pardosa sp. hunting on the surface of pond water.

The Pirate Wolf Spiders, Pirata sp., are not the only Wolf Spiders that hunt on the water's surface though. I have regularly seen Pardosa sp. hunting on the water's surface at both garden and woodland ponds. The Pardosa sp. pictured above was one of many found on the surface water, in a series of ponds, in a grass meadow in SE London.



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6mm Female Horse-Head Spider found on soil and leaf litter in my garden in SE London, 21st April 2017

Horse-Head Spider   (Stemonyphantes lineatus)

A small spider with a body length of around 4mm for males and 6-7.5mm for females. Found in a variety of habitats but most frequently encountered in grassland, and forest edges. They are also a regular sighting in gardens under logs and stones, and in meadows beneath overhanging grass tussocks. Most are found at ground level but some are seen on taller vegetation too. These spiders can be found all year round but are most regularly seen between April and May, and then peak in October. 

LINK 1   LINK 2   LINK 3


5mm female Horse-Head Spider found under overhanging grass by my garden pond in SE London, 8th November 2020





3.5mm male Horse-Head Spider found under overhanging grass in Hastings, Sussex, 26th September 2021





5mm Female Horse-Head Spider found under overhanging grass by my garden pond in SE London, 8th November 2020






3mm sub-adult male Money Spider  -  Lepthyphantes sp.

Money Spider   (Lepthyphantes sp.)

The term "Money Spider" is the common name given to around 270 different species of tiny spiders in the UK belonging to the family Linyphiinae. They are often colloquially referred to as "Linies".

The genus Lepthyphantes is a group of 21 species of sheet web spiders within that family in the UK, most of which have a body-length of under 3mm. Money Spiders account for one third of all spiders in the UK. Lepthyphantes Sp. are usually found in low vegetation and leaf litter. Some species of Money Spider can grow to 7mm whilst many have a body-length of just 1mm! The largest of the "Money Spiders" are the Megalepthyphantes genus of Ground Weaver Spiders. Neriene montana being the largest of these in the UK.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

2.5mm Money Spider, identified as Lepthyphantes s.str. (subfamily Micronetinae)

This small Money Spider was found on a lawnmower in a north Kent garden in November 2023. The leg annulations identify this Money Spider as Lepthyphantes species. Annulated leg-segments are lacking in Tenuiphantes, but present in both Megalepthyphantes and Lepthyphantes.



2.5mm Money Spider, identified as Lepthyphantes s.str. (subfamily Micronetinae)




2.5mm Money Spider, identified as Lepthyphantes s.str. (subfamily Micronetinae)




2.5mm Money Spider, identified as Lepthyphantes s.str. (subfamily Micronetinae)






Female Common Hammock-Weaver Spider  (Linyphia triangularis)

Common Hammock-Weaver / European Sheet-web Spider  (Linyphia triangularis)

The Common Hammock-Weaver is a widespread and very common member of the Linyphiidae family. It's a small spider with a body length of around 6mm and a leg-span of up to 20mm. The males are slightly smaller. These spiders build a small horizontal sheet-web in bushes and low vegetation where they are usually seen hanging upside down in the centre during the day in late summer and autumn. One identifying feature is the tuning-fork-shaped mark on the carapace behind the eyes.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


European Sheet-web Spider, Linyphia triangularis, 1st October 2022.

This 8mm female was one of many European Sheet-web Spiders, Linyphia triangularis, seen hanging upside down in their sheet-webs on gorse, and other low vegetation, during the daytime, at a heathland site in Surrey in October.





Garden Hammock Spider, Linyphia hortensis, found on low vegetation, Camden, NW London, May 2024.

Garden Hammock Spider  -  (Linyphia hortensis)




Garden Hammock Spider, Linyphia hortensis, found on low vegetation, Camden, NW London, May 2024.




Garden Hammock Spider, Linyphia hortensis, found on low vegetation, Camden, NW London, May 2024.






4mm gravid Platform Hammock Spider (Neriene peltata) on low tree branch in SE London, 11th May 2020

Platform Hammock Spider.  (Neriene peltata)

The Platform Hammock Spider is one of the smallest sheet weavers in the UK usually measuring around 3.5mm but sometimes up to 5mm. They can be found in low vegetation, bushes and on the lower branches of tress, but generally at a slightly higher level than other Neriene species. They are found from April - July in a variety of habitats including parks and gardens but seems to favour open parkland with a preference for conifers. This species is common and widespread across the UK.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


3.5mm female Platform Hammock Spider (Neriene peltata), found by its web, on flowerheads of pondside vegetation, in ornamental gardens, in East Sussex, 15th May 2023.





Female Misty Ground Weaver - (Megalepthyphantes cf nebulous) from the bottom of my SE London garden fence, 17th April 2018

Misty Ground Weaver Spider   (Megalepthyphantes nebulous / previously Lepthyphantes nebulosus )

Megalepthyphantes is a genus of Dwarf Spiders. Megalepthyphantes nebulous is a small sheet-web weaving spider, with a maximum body-length of 4mm for males and 4.5mm for females, and a leg-span of around 12mm. Widespread cross England and often found in cooler and damper areas of buildings such as cellars or outhouses. Also found in farms and gardens under logs and stones. There are several species of Megalepthyphantes in the UK and usually  they cannot be separated with the naked eye, however Megalepthyphantes nebulosus is the most likely.

LINK 1      LINK 2


Male Misty Ground Weaver - (Megalepthyphantes cf nebulosus)




Male Ground Weaver (Megalepthyphantes sp.) from my garden fence in SE London.

Either Megalepthyphantes nebulosus or the as yet undescribed Megalepthyphantes sp. near collinus.



Immature male Ground Weaver (Megalepthyphantes sp.) from my garden fence in SE London, 18th June 2020.

Either Megalepthyphantes nebulosus or the as yet undescribed Megalepthyphantes sp. near collinus.




Female Ground Weaver (Megalepthyphantes cf nebulosus) from the rockery in my in SE London garden, 20th September 2020






Male Sac Spider   (Clubiona cf comta)

Sac Spider   (Clubiona comta)

There are around 22 species of Sac Spider in the UK. Most can only be distinguished by microscopic examination of the genitalia. There are two species with fairly distinct but similar markings, Clubiona comta and Clubiona corticalis. Both prefer to hide themselves away beneath cracks and loose edges of tree bark, especially conifers. Sac Spiders are so named as they produce a silken sac to hide away in during the daytime. At night they actively hunt down their prey. Adult Clubiona comta grow to 7-10mm in body-length. Occasionally these spiders do find their way into homes and although small these spiders have been known to bite humans. When I was photographing this spider it repeatedly jumped into the air by an inch or two whenever I approached it with my camera. This defensive jumping behaviour is typical of this species. When hunting Sac Spiders slowly stalk their prey at night, relying on super-sensitive hairs on their legs that detect vibrations, rather than depending on their poor eye-sight. When within range the Sac Spiders pounce on their prey.

LINK 1    LINK 2


Female Sac Spider   (Clubiona cf comta)

Females can look similar to young Stone Spiders (Drassodes Sp.) however the Stone Spider's upper two eyes are much closer together, and the spinnerets are more splayed apart.



Female Sac Spider   (Clubiona cf comta)




One of several female Reed Sac Spiders (Clubiona phragmitis) found on Reedmace at a wetlands site in North Kent, 19th November 2020.

Reed Sac Spider   (Clubiona phragmitis)

Whilst most Sac Spiders can only be distinguished by microscopic examination of the reproductive organs, the Reed Sac Spider has quite distinctively robust chelicerae covering the fangs and favours wetland habitats, where they can be highly numerous on vegetation at the water's edge. Females usually grow to a body-length of 7-11mm whilst males grow to 5-10mm. The specimen above had a body-length of 11-12mm. Adults can be found all year round but are more commonly encountered from spring to late autumn. During the day adults hide away in a tubular silken retreat in the head of reads or under a folded leaf. This retreat is also used as a refuge during moulting, guarding their egg-sac of 45-60 eggs, and safe-guarding spiderlings. During the winter the Reed Sac Spider often hides away in stems of reeds and bulrush. They are considered common and widespread across England but are more numerous in central, southern and west England. 

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4    LINK 5


One of several female Reed Sac Spiders (Clubiona phragmitis) found on Reedmace at a wetlands site in North Kent, 19th November 2020.





One of several Reed Sac Spiders (Clubiona phragmitis) found on vegetation at the edge of a pond in Murston, Kent, 16th October 2022.





One of several Reed Sac Spiders (Clubiona phragmitis) found on vegetation at the edge of a pond in Murston, Kent, 16th October 2022.




Many of the Reed Sac Spiders (Clubiona phragmitis) I found on vegetation at the edge of a pond in Murston, Kent, on 16th October 2022, were hidden away in their silken retreats under folded leaves or curled reeds. When the leaves were gently prized open the spiders would leap to escape from what they perceived to be an attack from a predator. 






9mm male Sac Spider - (Clubiona sp.) found on my Ivy-covered fence in my garden at 10pm in May.

Male Sac Spiders will often guard young female Sac Spiders to ensure they are the first to mate with them. It is also common for males to guard females after copulation to prevent any other males from mating with them and they will fight off any challengers with great devotion.



7mm female Sac Spider - (Clubiona sp.) found in my house at the end of Auguest 2018





6mm female Sac Spider (Clubiona cf reclusa) with egg-sac. Found in an upturned and sealed nettle-leaf, by a stream. 7th June 2021.

Sac Spider  (Clubiona reclusa)

The Sac Spider (Clubiona reclusa) is usually found in low vegetation, especially nettlebeds, in a variety of habitats, usually damp. This species grows to a maximum length of 9mm but they're often smaller. Males reach a maximum of 6mm. The cephalothorax has a thin dark border and the abdomen is slightly elongated. The colour varies form a mid to dark chocolate brown. Clubiona reclusa make their nests at the top of nettles, and other vegetation, by turning over a leaf and sealing it with silken threads. Here the female will remain as she guards her egg-sac.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


9.5mm female Sac SpiderClubiona cf reclusa. Found at night on ivy in my SE London garden 14th May 2022.

At a quick glance this large female specimen could be mistaken for either a Mouse Spider, Scotophaeus blackwalli, or a Stone Spider, Drassodes sp. However the eyes on top of the carapace are too far apart for both these species. You may notice the rear legs on the right side of this specimen are malformed and are both considerably shorter and thinner that the legs on the left side of the spider. This is a result of the spider previously losing these legs prior to its last moult. During the moulting process the spider has been able to regenerate these missing limbs, however they have not been able to grow to the same size as the legs that were lost. This spider was still able to jump, and move at great speed in short bursts though, so its disability certainly won't hold it back as a predator. This spider is an adult specimen so it won't moult again during its lifetime and the regenerated legs will never reach their previous size.

9.5mm female Sac SpiderClubiona cf reclusa. Found at night on ivy in my SE London garden 14th May 2022.






7mm sub-adult male Stealthy Ground Spider  (Haplodrassus cf signifer) found wandering across my living-room floor at midnight 10th April 2020.

Stealthy Ground Spider / Ensign Ground Hunter / Common Grasper  (Haplodrassus cf signifer)

The Stealthy Ground Spider is a member of the Gnaphosidae family, Flat-bellied Ground Spiders, which includes both the Stone Spider and Mouse Spider. Gnaphosids are nocturnal hunters and spend the daytime hidden away in a silken retreat. They are closely related to the Clubionidae family, Sac Spiders.

Haplodrassus signifer is a medium sized spider with a body-length of 7-9mm for females and 5-8mm for males. Common across the UK and regularly found on heathland and grassland under rocks or grass tussocks. Adults can be found all year but usually between April to September. The Stealthy Ground Spider is brown in colour but females can be lighter and males can be almost black. Some female specimens can look very similar to Stone Spiders whilst some males can easily be confused with Sac Spiders. 

Haplodrassus signifer is sometimes known as the Ensign Ground Hunter. The second half of the binominal name is derived from Latin, and translates as "sign bearer". It refers to the abdominal markings, which tend to be far more obvious and bolder on Haplodrassus signifer than on other Haplodrassus species.

There are six species of the Haplodrassus genus in the UK including: Haplodrassus signifer, Haplodrassus dalmatensis, Haplodrassus minor, Haplodrassus silvestris, Haplodrassus soerenseni, Haplodrassus umbratilis. Haplodrassus signifer is common and widespread in the UK but the other five species are scarce and rarely encountered.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


9mm female Stealthy Ground Spider  (Haplodrassus cf signifer) found wandering across my kitchen floor at midnight, 12th May 2023.





9mm female Stealthy Ground Spider  (Haplodrassus cf signifer) found wandering across my kitchen floor at midnight, 12th May 2023.





Female Candy Stripe Spider, pale green lineata morph.

Candy Stripe Spider / Polymorphic Spider (Enoplognatha ovata / latimana)

The Candy Stripe Spider is a member of the Theridiidae family of Comb-Footed Spiders, Tangle-web Spiders and Cob-web Spiders. This small spider is common throughout the UK and resides in low vegetation habitat such as grassland, hedgerows and bushes. The female pictured above grows to a maximum body length of 6mm with a leg-span of 16mm whilst the smaller males only reach 4mm in body length. Both sexes are similar in appearance and can be found in three different colour morphs. 

Specimens of the Lineata morph have an abdomens that is either pale green, yellow or white, sometimes accompanied with pale green stripes and black spots.

Specimens of the Redimata morph have an abdomens that is either pale green, yellow or white, with two red stripes running down the abdomen.

Specimens of the Ovata morph have an abdomens that is either pale green, yellow or white, with a solid red shield on the abdomen.

The legs are semi-translucent in all colour morphs. The Candy Stripe Spider often builds a scrappy cob-web style web (a loose disorganised mess of threads) on low-lying plants, although I have found them on vegetation up to 5ft above the ground.

more information on the British Arachnological Society website here 


Female Candy Stripe Spider (redimita form)

This red morph of the Candy Striped Spider was photographed in late June wandering in my garden on low vegetation. Despite only having six legs, this specimen was coping just fine with its missing limbs. There is another morph, called ovata, that has a similar appearance, but there is no light area between the red stripes. Specimens with this single red / pink stripe are nearly always Enoplognatha latimana as oppose to Enoplognatha ovata.



4mm immature male Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha sp. form lineata)

The Candy-Stripe Spider uses its web to catch flying insects, but this is not the only way it finds food. The Candy Stripe Spider has also been proven to leave its web at night and actively hunt for flies, bees, and wasps that sleep on the tips of plant branches during the night. These flying insects often sleep in small groups for safety, but the Candy-Stripe Spider has been observed wrapping several insects at a time in silken thread. The Candy-Stripe Spider has also learned to pick up on the vibrations caused by some insects, such as Plant Hoppers. Plant Hoppers stridulate to send out a mating call to attract a partner. But it's not just other Plant Hoppers that respond to this call. Hungry Candy-Stripe Spiders also home in on it too.

LINK    LINK 2    LINK 3


5mm male Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha ovata, form lineata), found 7th June 2020 on a raspberry bush in my SE London garden.

This male specimen can be identified as Enoplognatha ovata by the straight tip of the palpal conductor, as opposed to the curved / twisted conductor tip found on Enoplognath latimana.




Female Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha sp), photographed at night "in-situ" on lavender in my garden, 18th August 2021.






Female Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha sp), photographed at night "in-situ" on lavender in my garden, 18th August 2021.






Female Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha sp), photographed at night "in-situ" on lavender in my garden, 18th August 2021.






Adult female Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found wandering a fence panel in my garden in SE London June 2019.

False Pirate Spider / Tinted Comb-Footed Spider / Conifer Cobweaver Spider  (Platnickina tincta / Keijia tincta)

A very small Comb-Footed Spider distributed across England, with a body-length of around 3.5mm. Usually encountered in early to mid-summer, in bushes and lower branches of trees. Although this spider makes a tangle web of its own it is often found hunting in the webs of other spiders that it feeds on. It is also commonly known to rob readily wrapped meals from other spiders webs too. The Tinted Comb-Footed Spider has also been known to guard egg-sacs of other spider species, especially Zygiella x-notata. Once the eggs hatch the Tinted Comb-Footed Spider will enjoy an easy meal eating all the new spiderlings.

This spider is almost indistinguishable from Theridion tinctum without microscopic examination.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4    LINK 5


3.5mm adult female Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found on metal railings in Camden, NW London, May 2024.




3.5mm adult female Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found on metal railings in Camden, NW London, May 2024.




3.5mm adult female Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found on metal railings in Camden, NW London, May 2024.




3.5mm adult female Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found on metal railings in Camden, NW London, May 2024.




3mm adult male Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found on metal railings in Camden, NW London, May 2024.




3mm adult male Tinted Comb-Foot Spider found on metal railings in Camden, NW London, May 2024.






3mm Female Banded Comb-Foot Spider found on an Oak Tree in SE London, May 2019.

Banded Comb-Footed Spider / Tree Comb-Footed Spider  (Anelosimus vittatus, previously Selimus vittatus)

A very small Comb-Footed Spider distributed across England, with a body-length of around just 2.5 - 3.5mm. Adults are usually encountered in late spring and summer with females sometimes still encountered in Autumn. This spider makes a tangle web, usually in tall bushes and trees, with a preference for Oak. The Banded Comb-Footed Spider is the only Comb-footed Spider with a dark band running over the abdominal area. This band is usually dark brown with the rest of the spider being light brown. However this species can vary in colour.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


3.5mm Female Disc-hand Spider found on Hogweed, at Swanscombe Marshes, Kent. 20th July 2021

Disc-hand Spider  (Kochiura aulica)

Kochiura aulica is a very small Comb-Footed Spider, with a body-length of around just 2.5 - 3.5mm. This is a nationally scarce species and in the UK it's confined to the south of England, where it is usually seen in its tangle-web on the tips of gorse bushes at heathland and coastal grassland sites. It has also been recorded on some brownfield sites with heathland characteristics. In Europe there are some records from France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary, but most records come from the south of Europe. In 2017 this species was recorded for the first time in Poland, suggesting that Kochiura aulica is spreading its range further north. This spider is believed to have originated from the Canary Islands. The common name of "Disc-hand Spider" is not often used but refers to the disc-shaped pedipalps, found on mature male specimens.

It is very difficult to distinguish between the rare Kochiura aulica and the far more common Anelosimus vittatus, although there are some very subtle differences. The dark border on the carapace of Kochiura aulica is bold and obvious, whereas the dark border on the carapace of Anelosimus vittatus tends to be much finer, where visible. Kochiura aulica also has a more narrow, serrated dorsal pattern. The two species are usually found in very different habitats and this also helps to identify the two without microscopic examination.

The specimen pictured above was one of about a dozen I found with webs amongst the heads of umbellifer flowers, about 2-3ft above ground level, in grassland at Swanscombe Marshes.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4



2.5mm Male Banded Comb-Foot Spider 

Male specimens are similar in size and appearance to the female but tend to be far darker in colour. The Banded Comb-Footed Spider is common across England but scarce in the rest of the UK.





Adult female Mothercare Spider found on low vegetation in my garden in SE London June 2018.

Mothercare Spider  (Phylloneta sisyphia /  previously Theridion sisyphium)

A very small Comb-Footed Spider distributed across England, with a body-length of around 2.5 - 5.5mm. Usually encountered in early to mid-summer in sunny spots in hedgerows and low vegetation including nettles, juniper, thistles, blackthorn, gorse and heather, as well as oak trees. This spider gets its name from the care of its young. The female feeds her newly hatched young with regurgitated food. Once big enough she will share her own food with them. She will die before the young leave the nest and they will feed on her body as their last meal before venturing out into the world on their own.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4




Adult female Mothercare Spider with pale green / blue egg-sac, sealed in an Oak Tree leaf, north Kent 8th July 2021.

The nest was constructed from plant debris tied together with silken threads. After I opened the leaf to take this photo the Mothercare Spider quickly set about closing and sealing the nest once again to protect the egg-sac.





American House Spider  (Parasteatoda tepidariorum)

American Common House Spider  (Parasteatoda tepidariorum, previously known as Theridion tepidariorum and Achaearanea tepidariorum)

In the USA  the cobweb-weaving Parasteatoda tepidariorum is one of the most common species of spider to be found around human habitation, and is referred to as the Common House Spider. It is often mistaken in the USA for the more venomous Brown Widow. In the UK this introduced species has been recorded since 1898 and is usually found around greenhouses and heated buildings, but it is also occasionally found outdoors as well, especially on Yew Trees in churchyards. Female specimens grow to around 5-7mm in body-length and the males reach 3-4mm. Parasteatoda simulans is identical to look at without very close examination of the reproductive organs.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3



Female Green Leaf Web Spider 

Green Leaf Web Spider  /  Green Mesh-Weaver  (Nigma walckenaeri)

The Green Leaf Web Spider has a maximum body & head length of 5mm. The specimen above had a total leg-span of just 7mm. They are most commonly seen in London, and the surrounding area, but occasional sightings have come from as far north as Staffordshire. They can be found from May to November, although August to October is when most are seen. It is believed that this spider may have been introduced accidentally by Kew Gardens as early as 1880. Females are entirely green but males have a brown head. These tiny spiders build a silky web across the surface of leaves to catch their prey. They are frequently found on Lilac although the specimen above was found on a Privet bush. These spiders are common in Southern Europe.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


Male Green Leaf Web Spider 




Male Green Leaf Web Spider next to a 1p coin to show how incredibly small these spiders are.





Female Green Leaf Web Spider at the top of a Privet Bush in my garden in SE London,  September 2019.




Female Green Leaf Web Spider photographed at the top of a Privet Bush in my garden in SE London, 5th September 2019





Female Green Leaf Web Spider photographed in my garden in SE London, 27th September 2023

This Green Leaf Web Spider was one of around 30 specimens found in a 75cm radius on the ivy-covered fence in my SE London garden. Further specimens were also found in the nearby bushes.




2.5mm Female Bleeding Heart Spider, photographed on low bushes at a coastal park in Whitstable, Kent, 

Bleeding Heart Spider  -  Nigma puella

The Bleeding Heart Spider is a very small, and nationally scarce species of leaf-web spider. It is mainly confined to the south of England, where it can sometimes be locally common in bushes and the lower branches of trees in parks and gardens. Females typically grow to around 2.5 - 3mm in body-length, and the males reach 2 - 3mm. This species shows extreme sexual dimorphism, with the females being a very pale green, pale yellow, or white, and the males being a bright rustic orange / red colour. The Bleeding Heart Spider gets its name from the red cardiac mark on the abdomen, which is more obvious against the white abdomen of the female. The males can be confused with the very similar, but extremely rare Nigma flavescens, which has only been recorded at two lowland heath sites in SE England. Like the Green Leaf Web Spider, Nigma walckenaeri, the Bleeding Heart Spider makes a small messy web across the surface of flat leaves, which it hides underneath.

LINK 1    LINK 2

2.5mm Female Bleeding Heart Spider, photographed on low bushes at a coastal park in Whitstable, Kent, 12th June 2023.




2.5mm male Bleeding Heart Spider, photographed on low bushes at a coastal park in Whitstable, Kent, 12th June 2023.




2.5mm male Bleeding Heart Spider, photographed on low bushes at a coastal park in Whitstable, Kent, 12th June 2023.





2.5mm sub-adult Bleeding Heart Spider, photographed on a bushes at Regents Canal, Camden, London, 5th May 2024.






2mm sub-adult male Mesh-Weaver, Dictyna cf uncinata, with parasitic larvae, found on riverside vegetation in a stretch of woodland in Lullingstone, Kent. 14th April 2024.

Barbed Mesh-Weaver  -  (Dictyna uncinata)

There are five species in the Dictyna group of Mesh-Weavers. The Dictyna group is comprised of Brigittea latensDictyna arundinaceaDictyna uncinataDictyna pusilla, and Dictyna major. All are very similar in appearance and need very close examination of the reproductive organs to identify to species level. These are very small spiders and males reach just 1.5 - 3mm in body-length. The females aren't much larger at 2 - 3.5mm. Brigittea latensDictyna arundinacea and Dictyna uncinata are all common and widespread in England. Dictyna pusilla is nationally scarce, and Dictyna major is extremely rare.

Mesh-Weavers of the Dictyna group build small intricately woven webs on plants, or amongst leaf litter, of cribellate silk. These fine webs often catch dust particles and give the web a somewhat messy appearance. The spiders can usually be found in a silken retreat at the edge of the web, often in the dead heads of flowers. These spiders all have pale hairs on both their carapace and abdomen. 

Whilst spiders of the Dictyna group need microscopic examination, to be completely sure when identifying to species level, this sub-adult male is most likely Dictyna uncinata. This can usually be determined by the pale hairs on the carapace forming three distinct longitudinal lines. Mature Dictyna uncinata specimens are sexually dimorphic. Adult males are dark brown in colour, and have a slimmer and more pointed abdomen. Immature males, like this specimen above, resemble the adult females, apart from the obvious swollen tips of their pedipalps. Dictyna uncinata are often found slightly higher from the ground than other Dictyna species, and can often be found in bushes and on the lower foliage of trees, where they build their webs across the surface of leaves. Adults are most frequently found from May to July.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

2mm male Common Mesh-Weaver, Dictyna sp. found on riverside vegetation in a stretch of woodland in Lullingstone, Kent. 14th April 2024.






Female Nursery Web Spider

Nursery Web Spider  (Pisaura mirabilis)

Nursery Web Spiders are a group of spiders belonging to the family Pisauridae. However this term is usually used to describe the European species Pisaura mirabilisMales usually have a body-length of 10-13mm whilst the female is 12-15mm. These spiders are grey or brown and are similar to Wolf Spiders in that both species can be seen carrying their egg-sac. However unlike the Wolf Spiders which carry their egg-sac attached to their spinnerets at the rear of their body, the Nursery Web Spider uses its jaws and pedipalps to carry the egg-sac beneath its body. The Nursery Web Spider gets its name from its watchful guarding of its young. When the egg is due to hatch it is fixed to a plant and then covered in a silken tent. The adult spider then stands guard over the spiderlings until they have all dispersed from the tent. These spiders do not spin a web to catch their prey but instead they rely on their speed and agility, much like Wolf Spiders, to actively chase down their victims. Males will often present the female with a gift before attempting to mate. This practice has shown that the chances of the female eating the male is drastically reduced.


Female Nursery Web Spider



 

Male Nursery Web Spider





Female Nursery Web Spider with egg-sac, found in grass field in SE London, May 2020.





Female Nursery Web Spider basking in the sunshine with egg.



 

Female Nursery Web Spider





15mm female Nursery Web Spider photographed on low vegetation at the edge of a grass field in SE London, 27th May 2021.





Female Nursery Web Spider photographed on a buttercup at the edge of a grass field in SE London, 2nd June 2021.





Adult male Nursery Web Spider, on riverside vegetation in Canterbury, Kent, 2nd May 2022.





Colourful Nursery Web Spiders, on riverside vegetation in Canterbury, Kent, 2nd May 2022.





Nursery-web Spider dutifully guarding its nest on nettle leaves in Cliffe, Kent. 30th June 2023.





Nursery-web Spider dutifully guarding its nest on bramble leaves in Cliffe, Kent. 30th June 2023.





Nursery-web Spider dutifully guarding its nest on bramble leaves in Cliffe, Kent. 30th June 2023.





Nursery-web Spider dutifully guarding its nest on bramble leaves in Cliffe, Kent. 30th June 2023.





Male Nursery-web Spider. Photographed in Cliffe, Kent, 30th March 2024.





Nursery-web Spider. Photographed in Cliffe, Kent, 30th March 2024.





Nursery-web Spider. Photographed in my SE London garden, 1st April 2024.





Female Nursery Web Spider, on riverside vegetation in Crayford, Kent.






Male Two-Clawed Hunting Spider  -  (Cheiracanthium erraticum)

Two-Clawed Hunting Spider / Common Long-Legged Sac-Spider  -  (Cheiracanthium erraticum)

On first impressions you'd be forgiven for mistaking this spider to be a species of Wide-Jawed Orb-Weaver. However, despite its very large jaws the Two-Clawed Hunting Spider is actually a member of the Clubionidae family of Sac-Spiders and is usually found in grassland and heathland. It doesn't build a web to catch its prey but does build a silky retreat from two or three heads of grass or low vegetation which are stitched together with silky threads. Females have a body-length of up to 9mm whilst the males are usually smaller at around 6.5mm. The males can resemble the Wide-Jawed Orb-Weaver with their huge jaws, however the Two-Clawed Hunting Spider isn't as long and thin and also displays a reddish stripe running the length of its back in both sexes. This species is fairly common and widespread across the UK. Males are generally seen in late spring to early summer, whilst females are found from late spring to late summer. This species is occasionally referred to as the Common Long-Legged Sac-Spider. There are three species of Cheiracanthium in the UK, Cheiracanthium erraticum, Cheiracanthium pennyi and Cheiracanthium virescens. C.erraticum and C.pennyi are almost identical and would require microscopic examination to distinguish. However, the colour of their eggs make them easier to identify as C.erraticum produce pinkish eggs, unlike the eggs of C.pennyi which are yellow.   LINK


LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Female Two-Clawed Hunting Spider  -  (Cheiracanthium erraticum)

At the start of May the female Two-Clawed Hunting Spider can be seen basking on low vegetation in the sun with her noticeably swollen abdomen. When ready the female builds a silky nest in low vegetation. The nest is open at both ends until the female pairs up with a male and copulation occurs. Once the egg-sac has been fertilised the male leaves and the female curls vegetation over the nest and seals herself inside with the egg-sac. The female specimen pictured above with a slim abdomen was removed from a sealed nest to be photographed 27th May 2020. She was immediately returned to her egg-sac afterwards and she quickly sealed herself back inside. By the end of May most Two-Clawed Hunting Spider nests I found were sealed up with females and their egg-sacs hidden away inside.


Male Two-Clawed Hunting Spider (Cheiracanthium erraticum) found in a retreat with the female in grassland in SE London 11th May 2020.





Male Two-Clawed Hunting Spider (Cheiracanthium erraticum) found in a retreat with the female in grassland in SE London 11th May 2020.




A heavily gravid female Two-Clawed Hunting Spider (Cheiracanthium erraticum) found in a retreat with the male in grassland in SE London 11th May 2020.





6mm adult male Green Long-Legged Sac-Spider, Cheiracanthium virescens. Found at Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, on 25th May 2022.

Green Long-Legged Sac-Spider  -  (Cheiracanthium virescens)

The Green Long-Legged Sac-Spider is the second out of three Cheiracanthium species found in the UK. Adult females typically reach 5-9mm and the males 5-7mm. This species is classed as nationally scarce and is usually found at ground level, or on low vegetation in open habitats such as heathland. The legs are usually pale yellow to brown and the abdomen is usually a greenish-grey colour, with a darker cardiac mark.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.

Mouse Spider  -  (Scotophaeus blackwalli)


LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4

I'd like to give very grateful thanks to Jody Pody Enguita for kindly sending me this spider. *

10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.





10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.





10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.





10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.





10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.





10mm female Mouse Spider , found indoors in Washington, Tyne and Wear, May 2024.





Female Stone Spider

Stone Spider  (Drassodes cupreus and Drassodes lapiidosus)

The Stone Spider is fairly common across the UK. The females can grow to a body length of around 18mm with a 30 - 40mm leg-span. They are normally light brown / grey in colour with an elongated abdomen, light brown legs, large black jaws and a velvety appearance. The four long tubular spinnerets at the back of the abdomen are helpful in identifying these species. These spiders do not make a web and during the day they hide themselves away in a web-based silky sac beneath logs and rocks or in dark sheds and garages. As nocturnal hunters they emerge at night and head off in search of their prey.

Drassodes cupreus is the most commonly encountered of the two species and are sometimes distinguished from Drassodes lapiidosus by the more coppery colouration. But these two species can be extremely difficult to tell apart even by experienced entomologists. The Stone Spider is considered to be one of "tough guys" amongst British spiders and with their stocky build and powerful jaws it's easy to see why.

  Account of Stone Spider bite.


19mm Female Stone Spider




Male Stone Spider

The swollen tips of the pedipalps, usually indicative of a male specimen for many spider species, are not as obvious on Stone Spiders. Male Stone Spiders can also be identified by their slimmer abdomen and considerably larger jaws than the female's already large jaws. Although I usually photograph spiders from several angles this male Stone Spider made a very fast dash for freedom and managed to escape from me and disappeared back into my garden before I could finish my photoshoot!



8mm immature female Stone Spider

This immature female Stone Spider hasn't yet developed the black colouration to its chelicerae. It can be distinguished from similar looking Clubiona species by its spinnerets and by how close the eyes are to each other. Stone Spiders can also easily be confused with the similar Mouse Spider, Scotophaeus blackwalli, also of the Gnaphosidae family. Mouse Spiders can be distinguished by their stockier, more robust legs, and their two round posterior median eyes on top, as opposed to the oval-shaped PM eyes of the Stone Spider. The Mouse Spider is far more likely of the two species to be found indoors.



15mm female Stone Spider. Photographed 31st August 2020

This adult female Stone Spider was one of several found with egg-sacs under planks of wood left on grass at Swanscombe Marshes in North Kent at the edge of the River Thames.




15mm female Stone Spider with egg-sac. 23rd August 2020.

This adult female Stone Spider was one of several found with egg-sacs under planks of wood left on grass at Swanscombe Marshes in North Kent at the edge of the River Thames.




Female Stone Spider living in my garden shed in SE London / North Kent.





This was an unusually large female Stone Spider specimen which was very pale in colouration and had a body length of 19mm.





Various body parts of a spider, illustrated on a Stone Spider.

The pedipalps are small appendages that spiders use as little arms for close range navigation and the holding and positioning of food etc. Mature males have complex pedipalps that are used for the storage and insertion of sperm into the female. The most accurate way of identifying different species of spider is to closely examine the sexual organs, which in males are the pedipalps and in females the epigyne. Many species of spider can be sexed by a quick look at the tips of the pedipalps, without the need for close inspection. Males of most species have notably swollen tips to their pedipalps, known as palpal bulbs. This swelling varies from one species to the next and whilst the swollen tips can be quite subtle with some species, the difference between the pedipalps of the mature males is often very obvious to those of the female in most species.

The body of the spider is referred to as either the cephalothorax or the prosoma. The abdomen of the spider is also sometimes referred to as the opisthosoma.


When found in gardens the Stone Spider is occasionally confused with the Woodlouse Spider. The two species are quite different as demonstrated by the image comparing the two. Notice the soft velvety appearance of the abdomen of the Stone Spider with its prominent spinnerets at the rear. The Woodlouse Spider has a deep red cephalothorax (head & body) and very large, curved jaws of the same colour, which can be seen protruding forwards even from above. The chelicerae that cover the fangs of the Stone Spider point more in a downwards direction and are black in colour.

The Stone Spider is far more easily mistaken for the larger species of Sac Spider, Clubiona species, and the Mouse Spider, Scotophaeus species.




Adult female Woodlouse Spider, Dysdera crocata

Woodlouse Spider  -  (Dysdera crocata)

Feeding mainly on Woodlice, the Woodlouse Spider has large and powerful jaws, which it uses to reach round and pierce the softer underside of its Woodlice prey. Woodlouse Spiders are usually found in dark ,damp places such as under logs or rocks, or anywhere else you might find Woodlice. This is a fairly common species across the UK, with the SE of England having the strongest concentration of the species. They are a regular find by both gardeners and builders due to their habitat preferences. Woodlouse Spiders have six eyes. Female Dysdera crocata have a body-length of up to 15mm, and the males around 10mm. This species is sometimes referred to as the "Baked Bean Spider" because of the shape and colour of the abdomen. Other common names include Pillbug Hunter, Stiletto Spider and Slater Spider.  This spider is often dominant in its habitat due to its strength and large, powerful jaws. Besides Woodlice it will also feed on other insects including millipedes, small beetles, earwigs, and even centipedes and other spiders. 

In the UK we have two very similar species of Woodlouse Spider. In addition to Dysdera crocata we also have the far rarer species Dysdera erythrina, that looks almost identical. Dysdera erythrina is usually found in more natural habitats, away from human habitation, and often in damp areas. Dysdera erythrina is sometimes referred to as the Lesser Woodlouse Spider as they tend to be slightly smaller than Dysdera crocataDysdera erythrina can be distinguished by the lack of the two dorsal spines that are present on the fourth femora of Dysdera crocata. In Spain there are around 40 different Dysdera species, which makes identifying them to species level impossible from just a photo, and requires microscopic examination of the reproductive organs of mature specimens.

LINK 1        LINK 2        LINK 3


Adult female Woodlouse Spider, Dysdera crocata, found under a rotting piece of wood in my SE London garden, 18th April 2018.

Woodlice Spiders have been known to bite humans on occasion. The bite is an initially painful sharp prick, due largely to the deep penetration of the skin caused by the size of the jaws, but the venom is ineffective against humans and results in mild itchiness usually lasting less than an hour if not scratched. 

LINK 4      LINK 5      LINK 6


Adult female Woodlouse Spider, Dysdera crocata, found wandering at night on an outside wall of my SE London house, 22nd April 2018.




Adult male Woodlouse Spider, Dysdera crocata, found under a log on a marshland site in SE London, September 2020.





Adult female Woodlouse Spider, Dysdera crocata




Woodlouse Spider, found under a large log at Swanscombe Marshes, in Kent, 23rd March 2022.

The Woodlouse Spider is a nocturnal hunter, and during the daytime it hides itself away in a silken retreat under damp logs.




Adult female Woodlouse Spider, Dysdera crocata






One of several adult female Sneak Spiders (Harpactea hombergi) found within Ivy on a Sycamore tree in my garden in SE London, 7th May 2020.

Sneak Spider / Stripe-Legged Spider     (Harpactea hombergi)

The Sneak Spider looks very similar to the Woodlouse Spider (Dysdera sp), but is far smaller with a body-length of around 6-7mm. The other noticeable difference is the obviously stripped legs usually present at all stages of their life-cycle, and they lack the huge jaws found on Woodlouse Spiders. They are members of the same family (Dysderidae) as the Woodlouse spider though. They are often found in leaf litter, under rocks, under tree bark, and within ivy growing on trees. Sneak Spiders are a primitive species and have only six eyes and very basic pedipalps. Adult specimens can be found all year round but peak in May. These nocturnal hunters can often be found in large groups in ideal habitat.

LINK 1        LINK 2        LINK 3       LINK 4


4mm sub-adult male Stripe-Legged Spider (Harpactea sp) found within Ivy on a Sycamore tree in my garden in SE London, 3rd June 2020.

Although at this stage this specimen bears some visual resemblance to a Sac-Spider (Clubiona sp.) it can be readily identified as Harpactea sp by the arrangement of its six eyes, with four eyes at the top and two beneath, rather than the two eyes at the top and six beneath of Sac-Spiders. One feature that separates Harpactea hombergi from the very similar, but incredibly rare in the UK, Harpactea rubicunda, is the large number of leg-spines visible on the fourth coxae (hip segment of hind legs) of Harpactea rubicunda. The epigyne is not clearly visible on these species and is not used to identify down to species level.

Without close examination it's not possible to be sure if this specimen is Harpactea hombergi or the very rare Harpactea rubicund that has only previously been recorded a few times in Essex. The lack of clearly visible stripes on the legs could point to the rarer Harpactea rubicund.

 LINK 1    LINK 2


5mm Sneak Spider, Harpactea hombergi, on the garden fence in my SE London, at night. 4th April 2023





4.5mm male Sneak Spider / Striped-leg Spider, Harpactea hombergi, found in my SE London home at night, 20th April 2024.




4.5mm male Sneak Spider / Striped-leg Spider, Harpactea hombergi, found in my SE London home at night, 20th April 2024.




4.5mm male Sneak Spider / Striped-leg Spider, Harpactea hombergi, found in my SE London home at night, 20th April 2024.




4.5mm male Sneak Spider / Striped-leg Spider, Harpactea hombergi, found in my SE London home at night, 20th April 2024.






Lace Weaver Spiders   -  Amaurobius species

There are three species of Lace Weaver Spider in the UK. Amaurobius similis, Amaurobius fenestralis and the larger Amaurobius ferox. All three species are similar in appearance but Amaurobius ferox tend to be larger and darker as adults. Close examination of the reproductive organs is sometimes required to positively distinguish Amaurobius similis from Amaurobius fenestralis but habitat is a helpful key for identification. Amaurobius similis are commonly found around human habitation whereas Amaurobius fenestralis are more frequently found under loose bark in woodland habitats. The Black Lace Weaver, Amaurobius ferox, prefers darkness and is usually found under logs and rocks.

When Lace Weavers were first named it was believed that there were only two species, Amaurobius fenestralis and Amaurobius ferox. The name "fenestralis" can be translated to mean "of windows" as it was believed that this species was frequently found around window frames. However when it was discovered that those specimens found around human habitation and window frames were in fact a different species to those found in the woodlands they were reclassified as a separate species and renamed as Amaurobius similis. "Similis" can be translated to meaning "very similar". So even though Amaurobius fenestralis kept the name "of windows" they are actually far more likely to be found in woodland habitat.

There is an excellent post on Facebook, by Justin Coey-Archer, comparing the pedipalps of the three British Amaurobius species.  LINK


Female Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis)

Lace Weaver / Web Spider  (Amaurobius similis)

A very common and widespread species found in most houses and outhouses across the country. Similar in appearance to Amaurobius ferox, but not quite as large or as dark in colour. In urban gardens Amaurobius ferox are usually found under rocks, logs and stones, but Amaurobius similis are more often be found in holes in walls and fences, and around the window and door-frames of the house. Lace Weavers can be found all year, but males are peak from June - November. Females can grow to a body-length of around 12mm but males are usually around 8mm.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Female Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis), on my ivy-covered garden fence, 18th August 2021





12mm Female Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis), on the compost heap in my SE London garden, 14th May 2022.




11mm Female Lace Weaver, Amaurobius similis, photographed at night on my garden fence in SE London 14th November 2022. 





12mm Female Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis), in the compost heap in my SE London garden, 14th May 2022.





8mm sub-adult female Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis)





Gravid adult female Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis)





A large 10mm male Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis) found wandering on the doorframe of my house in SE London, 19th December 2020.





A close-up look at the pedipalps of the adult male Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis).






Large 16mm female Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox)

Black Lace Weaver / Web Spider  (Amaurobius ferox)

The female Black Lace Weaver Spider can have a substantial body size of 16mm and a leg-span of around 30mm. The males are slightly smaller with a maximum body size of 12.5mm. These spiders are often found under logs, rocks, tree bark and in cellars, garages, gardens and woodland across Europe and N. America. The Greek word "Amaurobius" means "living in the dark" and the Latin word "ferox" can mean "the fierce or ferocious one" - The fierce one from the dark!

The females never leave their silken web which consists of a lace-like web around a funnel. Males can be found wandering around at night looking for females to mate with. Usually during their second year the female will give birth to 60-180 eggs in a silky woven sack. The spiderlings will eventually eat their mother before leaving the nest. This process is known as matriphagy. 

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Large 16mm female Black Lace Weaver

These spiders are not usually aggressive but females are known to bite if disturbed from their web. I have been bitten by these spiders twice myself on my hand when turning over logs and rocks. After an initial sharp pin-prick my hand felt slightly swollen with a strong sensation of heat and tingling and I felt slightly light-headed and nauseated. These symptoms were minor and passed within a couple of hours although others report symptoms of nausea, pain, reddening and swelling lasting for up to three days.

The female Black Lace Weaver Spiders practice a behaviour called matriphagy. The word matriphagy can be broken into two parts to understand its meaning. 'Matri', meaning mother, and the suffix 'phagy', meaning to feed on. Once the tiny spiderlings emerge from the egg sac, the female often produces a second clutch of eggs for the young to feed on. When this food source runs out the adult female then begins to pluck at her web. The vibrations on the web stimulate the young and they start to swarm all over their mother. They begin to bite and inject venom for the first time, whilst the adult female makes no attempt to resist or escape. She sacrifices herself to prepare her young to hunt for themselves in the outside world. This has been photographed and documented brilliantly by Tone Killick.

LINK 1


13mm female Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox)





12mm female Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox) found under a log in woodland in SE London, 23rd March 2021





12mm female Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox) found under a log in woodland in SE London, 23rd March 2021





10mm immature male Black Lace Weaver found under a tarpaulin on Glyne Gap Beach, Hastings, 26th July 2020.

Immature specimens of the Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox) can be lighter in colour making them harder to distinguish from the Lace Weaver (Amaurobius similis). One identifying feature on lighter examples of Amaurobius ferox is the lighter patch in the cardiac area. Both Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius fenestralis rarely have anything here and when they do it isn't as clearly pronounced.



10mm immature Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox) found under a log at Regents Canal, London. 3rd September 2023.





10mm immature Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox) found under a log at Regents Canal, London. 3rd September 2023.





10mm immature Black Lace Weaver (Amaurobius ferox) found under a tarpaulin on Glyne Gap Beach, Hastings, 26th July 2020.






10m male Ground-Living Spider (Coelotes terrestris) found under a log on Surrey heathland, 24th July 2020.

Ground-Living Spider  (Coelotes terrestris)

The Ground-Living Spider is one of two Coelotes species found in the UK. Coelotes terrestris, as pictured above, is regarded as "nationally scarce" and is generally confined to the south and south-east of England. Whereas the more common Coelotes atropos is fairly widespread across Britain, particularly in the west of the UK, but is far less common in the east and south-east of England. Where Coelotes terrestris are found it is never in large numbers.

Both Coelotes species in the UK are forest dwellers and can be found in woodland, moorland, shrubby heathland, under logs and leaflitter and at the base of trees. The two Coelotes species are very similar and can’t be distinguished by looking at photos. You would have to examine the reproductive organs to accurately identify them. However, they tend to have different geographic locations in the UK so checking the range of each species will indicate which of the two it’s most likely to be.   Coelotes terrestris    Coelotes atropos 

Adult specimens grow to a body-length of 7-10mm for males and 9-13mm for females. Both species build tubular silk-lined burrows with a silken collar at the entrance. Like some other genus of spider Coelotes species often practice matriphagy, so after the female cares for her young spiderlings, until they are ready to disperse, she will eventually die and they will feed on her corpse.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


11m female Ground-Living Spider (Coelotes cf terrestris) found under a log on Surrey heathland, 15th April 2022.

Coelotes terrestris can often be distinguished by their dark cardiac mark when compared to the light cardiac mark of from Coelotes atropos. However this feature alone is not a reliable guarantee of species as both Coelotes species are highly variable. Both species can vary from a pale cream colour to a dark, reddish-brown.

Coelotes species can be difficult to distinguish from Amaurobius ferox. Simeon Indzhov provided some helpful key features to distinguish Coelotes species:

1. The agelenid spinnerets are more visible.
2. Legs pair 1 are longer than legs pair 4 in Amaurobius.
3. Chevron pattern but no window or Ф in the front part of the abdomen in Coelotes.
4. Bases of chelicerae are more protruding in Coelotes.
5. Coelotes are glossy, and lacki the dense silverish hair cover of Amaurobiidae on the legs and cephalothorax. Their hairs are shorter and sparser.



11mm Grey House Spider, found in a garden in Washington Town, Tyne & Wear, 28th April 2024.

Grey House Spider  -  (Badumna longinqua)

The Grey House Spider, Badumna longinqua, is an Australian species that first started being sighted in the UK in 2019. This non-native spider is now established in several parts of the UK, including Tyne & Wear, where this specimen came from. By 2024 the Grey House Spider had also been recorded in Nottinghamshire, Newcastle, Sunderland, Neath, Plymouth and Sussex. Although how this spider became introduced to the UK hasn't been confirmed it is likely to have arrived here with imported plants as the first records were around garden centres.

By UK standards the Grey House Spider is a good sized species and adult females can reach a body-length of around 15mm. Males are smaller and reach around 11mm. This species is largely synanthropic in the UK and builds a web similar to that of the Lace-weaver, Amaurobius similis. Unlike the Lace-weaver's web, which is fine and delicate, and built flat against surfaces such as fence panels, the web of the Grey House Spider is larger, with larger gaps between the web. It is sometimes referred to as being similar in appearance to a cargo net. The web is often built to span open gaps or spaces, much like an orb-web. Webs can be found from about 4ft above the ground right up to roof level on buildings. The webs are built from cribellate silk, which isn't sticky, but like wool is made from fine strands woven together. The spider relies on its prey getting tangled in the web for long enough for the spider to pounce on its victim. During the daytime the spider hides itself away in a tubular retreat, in a sheltered corner of the web.

This nocturnal spider is rather shy species and any disturbance quickly sends it running for cover. Since being discovered in the UK these spiders have proven to be quite hardy. Despite originating from eastern Australia this spider seems to have no problems surviving British winters. It's not just the UK that has adopted the Grey House Spider, there are many other countries that have recently seen this species become established. It is believed that these spiders take around a year to reach maturity and then live for a further year as an adult. The Grey House Spider is very likely to become widely established across all of the UK and there are concerns it might displace the native Lace-web Spider, Amaurobius similis. Bites to humans are considered to be harmless.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4

* I'd like to give very grateful thanks to Jody Pody Enguita for kindly sending me this spider. *

11mm Grey House Spider, found in a garden in Washington Town, Tyne & Wear, 28th April 2024.





11mm Grey House Spider, found in a garden in Washington Town, Tyne & Wear, 28th April 2024.





11mm Grey House Spider, found in a garden in Washington Town, Tyne & Wear, 28th April 2024.





11mm Grey House Spider, found in a garden in Washington Town, Tyne & Wear, 28th April 2024.





9mm Common Crawler Spider (Zelotes cf latreillei) found under damp logs on Swanscombe Marshes, 16th August 2020.

Common Crawler Spider (Zelotes latreillei)

The Common Crawler Spider is a small species having a body-length of up to 8mm for males and 9mm for females. The body is almost entirely black or very dark brown with just the tips of the legs being lighter brown. The cephalothorax is pointed towards the front. The Common Crawler Spider is usually found in open lowland areas such as chalk grassland and heathland under logs, stones and wooden debris. The egg-sac is a pinkish white flat disc which the female guards in her silken retreat. Common Crawler Spiders can occasionally be seen in the open on sunny days moving at speed. This species is also known as the Latreilles Zipper due to their speed. Adults are most frequently encountered from April to September. Zelotes is a genus of Ground Spiders with six species found in the UK. 5 of the 6 species are all black and very similar in appearance with microscopic examination usually being required for accurate identification.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


4mm Adult female Ground Spider (Drassyllus cf pusillus) found on the front of my house at midday 7th November 2020

Ground Spider (Drassyllus pusillus  /  Zelotes pusillus)

This small ground spider is very similar in appearance to other Zelotes species but Drassyllus are smaller in size and generally more colourful. Drassyllus pusillus grows to around 4-5mm for females and 3-4mm for males. They are widespread across the southern half of England. Most commonly found on dry, open lowland sites including sandy heathland and chalk downland under rocks, discarded rubbish and grass tussocks. Adults are usually recorded in early to mid summer.

LINK 1    LINK 2



Adult female Cellar Spider

Cellar Spider / Skull Spider / Daddy Long-Legs  (Pholcus phalangioides)

The Cellar Spider is very common and frequently found in homes across the country. This spider has many names but they are most commonly referred to by the term 'Daddy-long-legs'. This term is unfortunately also used when referring to Crane Flies and Harvestmen, so adds to confusion when identifying a species and is best avoided. 

- Crane flies (Tipulidae) are large, slender flies known for their erratic flight.

- Harvestmen (Opiliones) are arachnids but not spiders because they only have a single pair of eyes and a fused body shape.

Cellar Spiders build messy dangling webs that hang from the ceiling in houses, garages and cellars. They have a small body 6-10mm and extremely long thin legs and can have a leg-span of up to 70mm or more. These legs are very delicate and it's not uncommon to find specimens with missing legs. They are also known as the Skull Spider due to their head often resembling that of a human skull. Another name sometimes used is the Architrave Spider which obviously comes from their webs usually being found in houses where ceilings and walls meet. When approached these spiders will vibrate their webs rapidly and has given rise to yet another name for the species, the Vibrating Spider. This is a practice adopted by many other spider species as well though. In the UK we also have another native species of Pholcidae, Psilochorus simoni. Psilochorus simoni is uncommon and far smaller with a body-length of just 2-2.5mm, and a darker, rounder abdomen. Psilochorus simoni usually make their webs at ground level.

BAS Factsheet

Adult female Cellar Spider

The Cellar Spider is not an aggressive species but does bite humans on occasion. These bites to humans are rare and reports indicate nothing more than a very mild and short-lived burning sensation. In July 2015 my cousin reported being bitten by a Cellar Spider - “I was gardening yesterday when I felt a stinging sensation on my leg. When I looked down one of these little brutes was attached to my calf! As soon as I brushed it off my leg I felt better.”

Account of Cellar Spider bite from the Discovery Channel's 2004 “Mythbusters” program            More info on the Cellar Spider here

Despite their delicate appearance the Cellar Spider is a "spider hunter" and can prey on other far larger or more dangerous spiders such as Giant House Spiders or False Widow Spiders. They achieve this by throwing silky strands of web at their opponent to entangle them before moving in and biting. They are therefore considered a species that might be beneficial to have in your home if you don't like spiders! They are also cannibalistic and even the young spiderlings will prey on their siblings. These spiderlings are almost completely transparent and hang around the mother's web for some time after hatching. Common names came be confusing as the name “cellar spider” is sometimes also used for both the False Widow Spider (Steatoda grossa) and the Tube Web Spider (Segestria florentina).

I've often heard the myth repeated that Cellar Spiders have one of the most potent venoms of all spiders, but due to their small fangs they are unable to inject that venom into humans. This is complete nonsense. The venom of the Cellar Spider has almost no effect on humans at all. It is believed that this myth may have originally started in Australia. Apparently the Cellar Spider is sometimes observed successfully preying in the highly venomous Redback Spider, Latrodectus hasselti. People put 2 and 2 together and came up with 5, when they wrongly assumed that for the Cellar Spider to overpower the Redback Spider it must have even more powerful venom.


Adult female Cellar Spider with eggs. Found in my tool shed in SE London, 20th June 2020.

Different species have different methods of carrying their egg-sacs. The Cellar Spider produces around 20-30 eggs which it carries in its jaws. It is well documented that Pholcus carry their eggs with their jaws, which can be seen in my photos. However photo one shows the Pholcus appears to also use the aid of a sticky saliva to help carry the eggs as the eggs are suspended from the bottom of its jaws by a clear fluid.




Adult Cellar Spider feeding on spider prey, 9th October 2022.





Adult Cellar Spider feeding on spider prey, 9th October 2022.





A very large 11mm gravid female Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, in my garden shed in SE London, 10th May 2024.





A very large 11mm gravid female Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, in my garden shed in SE London, 10th May 2024.





A very large 11mm gravid female Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, in my garden shed in SE London, 10th May 2024.





A very large 11mm gravid female Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, in my garden shed in SE London, 10th May 2024.





A very large 11mm gravid female Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, in my garden shed in SE London, 10th May 2024.





A very large 11mm gravid female Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides, in my garden shed in SE London, 10th May 2024.






5mm Adult female Marbled Cellar Spider

Marbled Cellar Spider  (Holocnemus pluchei)

The Marbled Cellar Spider is a non-native species from the Mediterranean that has been introduced and has naturalised colonies in the UK at a couple known sites in the Midlands, with occasional specimens turning up elsewhere in the UK as accidental imports. Females reach a body-length of around 5-7.5mm and males are similar at 5-7mm. These spiders are similar in appearance to our native Pholcus phalangioides, and are the third species in the UK from the Pholcidae family, but have a distinct marble pattern on their abdomen. In their native Mediterranean countries they can be found in similar habitats to Pholcus phalangioides, around homes, cellars and garages, as well as amongst loose rocks in warm terrain. In the UK they are mostly encountered in greenhouses and warehouses. Unlike most spiders, both sexes have swollen pedipalps and sexing this species from photos is difficult until the male's final moult when the fully developed pedipalps can be seen. It's also unusual that both sexes are also known to communicate by stridulation when courting, and not just the males.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Adult female Marbled Cellar Spider

*  I would like to give huge thanks to Gen Popovici for sending me this specimen to photograph and add to my website.  *




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All three species of Buzzing Spider currently found in the UK

Buzzing Spiders (Anyphaena species)

Buzzing Spiders are members of the family Anyphaenidae, which are sometimes known as Ghost Spiders, as internationally many of the world's 500 species are very pale in shade, and all are largely nocturnal. Anyphaenidae are also occasionally referred to as Anyphaenid Sac-Spiders. Anyphaenidae can be distinguished from other spiders by the location of their abdominal spiracle, or respiratory opening, which is situated ventrally in the centre of their abdomen. This opening is usually found in close proximity to the spinnerets on other species of spider.

Until recently there was only the one species of Buzzing Spider found in the UK, Anyphaena accentuata. However, since 2014 & 2017 there have been another two arrivals to London from the six Anyphaena species found in Europe. 2014 saw the arrival of Anyphaena sabina to the UK, and in 2017 Anyphaena numida also became established in the SE of England. Buzzing spiders get their name from the male of the species, which during courtship communicates by vibrating its abdomen against leaves of bushes and trees, which produces the high pitched buzzing sound. Buzzing Spiders do not build webs but chase down their prey on tree branches and bushes.

All three species of Buzzing Spider can be difficult to distinguish in the field, but when compared side-by-side, as in the image above, subtle differences can often be noticed. All specimens of Anyphaena accentuata that I've encountered, display a distinct darkening of the rear of their abdomen, that is far less obvious on either Anyphaena numida or Anyphaena sabina, if present at all.

Anyphaena sabina are generally paler than Anyphaena accentuata, but still have dark markings. However, as with most spiders variation does occur and it may be possible to occasionally find darker specimens of Anyphaena sabina, as well as paler specimens of Anyphaena accentuata, which would both need microscopic examination to accurately identify to species level. In December 2022 Arachnologists Graeme Lyons & Tylan Berry noted "that even darker Anyphaena sabina specimens seem to have a translucence about them, almost a waxy look" which separates them from Anyphaena accentuata.

The markings on Anyphaena numida are far more subtle. The carapace markings of both Anyphaena accentuata and Anyphaena sabina have clearly defined pale median bands and dark lateral bands. In contrast, Anyphaena numida lacks both but rather has several radiating dark streaks. Anyphaena numida also have a slightly different carapace shape. Anyphaena numida mature later in the year to the other two species. Male Anyphaena numida are even easier to distinguish from our other Buzzing Spiders as the carapace is rounder in shape, the abdomen is longer and more slender, and the pedipalps also appear to be longer. The legs are also longer than the males of either Anyphaena accentuata or Anyphaena sabina. Based on this pictured specimen alone, Anyphaena numida appear to have fewer leg-spines on their rear legs, when compared to both other species.

When looking at mature specimens the time of year can help with identification. Anyphaena are quite seasonal. Mature Anyphaena numida are usually found in Autumn. Adult Anyphaena accentuata and Anyphaena sabina are usually found in spring.


5.5mm Sub-adult male Anyphaena accentuata found under loose bark on a low branch of a tree in woodland in SE London, 20th December 2020.

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena accentuata)

The Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena accentuata, is common and widespread in Southern England but its distribution becomes more scattered further north. They are usually found in wooded and bushy areas as they hunt and mate on the leaves of trees and bushes. Adult females usually grow up to 7mm and males 6.5mm. Females are slightly paler in colour than the males, but both have distinctive black, triangular, arrow-markings on their abdomen, which are key to identifying this species. Adults are found in early to mid-summer with some adult females hanging on until the end of summer. During the autumn juveniles can often be found in low vegetation, leaf litter and under loose bark.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


5.5mm Sub-adult male Anyphaena accentuata

Both the male and female sub-adult Buzzing Spider specimens were found under loose tree bark of a large broken tree branch on a wooded brownfield site in SE London. 




5.5mm Sub-adult female Anyphaena accentuata, found under loose bark on a low branch of a tree in SE London woodland, 20th December 2020.





9mm adult female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena sabina, found wandering at night on my Ivy-covered garden fence in SE London, 5th May2019.

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena sabina)

Anyphaena sabina have been established in the London area since 2014. Anyphaena sabina are slightly larger than Anyphaena accentuata, with females reaching around 9.5mm and males reaching 6.5mm. Both species share similar habitats and can be found in bushes and on tree branches.   

* Thanks to expert arachnologist Tylan Berry, for examining this specimen and confirming as Anyphaena sabina. *


6mm female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena sabina, brushed from an Ivy-covered Sycamore tree in SE London, 5th March 2022.





6mm adult female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena numida, found in London December 2022.

Buzzing Spider (Anyphaena numida)

Anyphaena numida is a European species of Buzzing Spider that has been established in the London area since 2017. Anyphaena numida are the smallest of the three Buzzing Spiders found in the UK, with both sexes reaching around 6mm in body-length. Adults typically reach maturity around the end of the summer or in Autumn. Although it was assumed that this species was confined to the London area by the end of 2021 there had been occasional sightings of Anyphaena numida from elsewhere in the UK as well, including a specimen found on October 19th 2021 by Nicola Guy in East Berkshire. LINK.  By 2022 several more specimens were being found at sites across England, including one adult female specimen that was found in a residential garden in North West England, by Lorraine Isherwood, in December 2022.  LINK  Another female specimen was found by James Chisnall, near Bognor Regis, in West Sussex, on 12th September 2022. LINK


6mm adult female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena numida, found in London, December 2022.





6mm adult female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena numida, found in London, December 2022.

* I'd like to give grateful thanks to Shreyas Kuchibhotla for finding and sending this spider to me so it could be photographed and added to this website *



6mm adult female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena numida, found on a Sycamore tree in my SE London garden, 12th October 2023.

This Anyphaena numida specimen was the first to be found at my home and this now means that I have found all three of the Anyphaena species in my SE London garden. All specimens have been found on the low branches of the Sycamore trees or on the ivy-covered fences.



6mm adult female Buzzing Spider, Anyphaena numida, found on a Sycamore tree in my SE London garden, 12th October 2023.






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9mm Labyrinth Spider, Agelena labyrinthica.

Labyrinth Spider  -  (Agelena labyrinthica)

The Labyrinth Spider is usually found in long grass, on hedgerows and low down on trees across England and Wales especially in July and August. Their webs are large, horizontal, dense sheets of white, silky, threads with a funnel retreat in the centre. This deep funnel usually leads to a series of chambers, where the female keeps her egg-sac. These webs are often found in abundance on hedgerows where this species is present, and they range from being located on the ground to being 1.5 metres above ground level. The Labyrinth Spider is the largest of 180 species of funnel spider found in Europe. Adult male Agelena labyrinthica typically reach around 8-10mm in body-length. The females typically reach 10-12mm, but some specimens can grow to a maximum body-length of 18mm. These spiders are fast and agile. They have good spatial awareness and will often quickly retreat into their labyrinth of tunnels if approached. They are also cannibalistic and this male specimen photographed above was found eating an identical spider of the same size and species. This is not a species usually found in houses and its bite is not considered to be painful or of any concern. Agelena labyrinthica is the only Agelena species found in the UK, but there are others in Europe. Agelena species have long, segmented spinnerets, which visibly protrude from the read of their abdomen. Agelena labyrinthica has the longest spinnerets of all the Agelena species, and the second segment of the spinneretts is twice as long as the base segment.

More info here:   Link 1   Link 2   Link 3


12mm Female Labyrinth Spider (Agelena labyrinthica)

This Labyrinth Spider was ready to defend itself after being captured and photographed, as you can see by the venom dripping from its fangs!



12mm Female Labyrinth Spider (Agelena labyrinthica)



Male Labyrinth Spider (Agelena labyrinthica) waiting by the entrance to its lair, surrounded by the disgarded carcasses of its former prey victims.





14mm male Giant House Spider, photographed on decking at a cottage in Bodmin, Cornwall, 11th August 2022.

Giant House Spider - (Eratigena atrica)

The Giant House Spider is one of the UK's largest spiders. They have also been recorded as the fastest running spider in the world! Adult females typically have a body-length of 11-16mm whilst the slightly smaller males reach 10-14mm. They are common visitors to UK garden sheds and garages and also often make their way into houses in the autumn months. The female pictured above has a larger and stockier body when compared to the male. The male does have longer legs though and usually grow up to an impressive maximum leg-span of about 7.5cm with some reaching close to 10cm. 

The Giant House Spider was reclassified in 2013 and is no longer part of the Tegenaria House Spider genus. It has its own genus of Eratigena. For some time there has been much debate over whether there several different species of Giant House Spider, including Tegenaria duellica, Tegenaria atrica, Tegenaria gigantea and Tegenaria saeva, or whether they shoulod all be classed as the same species Eratigena atrica. In 2020 the debate was finally settled and scientists agreed that instead of being one combined species there were actually three species of Giant House Spider, Eratigena duellica, Eratigena atrica, and Eratigena saeva. These three species of Giant House Spider are now known as the atrica group.


15mm female Giant House Spider, found under a log at Regents Park London. 3rd October 2023.





15mm female Giant House Spider, found under a log at Regents Park London. 3rd October 2023.





15mm female Giant House Spider, found under a log at Regents Park London. 3rd October 2023.





Adult female Giant House Spider, removed from a Royal Mail pillar box 2015.


How to distinguish Giant House Spiders from House Spiders?

The general rule is: Giant House Spiders (Eratigena species) have plain legs, but the smaller House Spiders (Tegenaria species) have banded or ringed legs. House Spiders have two solid and bold parallel bars on their carapace. Giant House Spiders have two broken parallel bars on their carapace. There is an excellent comparison by Tone Killick here.


Webs can be found both indoors and outdoors. They are messy and made with multiple layers of silken thread, with a funnel retreat in one of the corners. The threads are not sticky and prey wandering into the web simply gets tangled rather than stuck to the web. The Giant House Spider is quick to take advantage of the tangled prey and rushes out to inflict a subduing bite whilst dragging the prey back to its retreat. Webs are very durable and can last for many years.They are often reused by the next generation after the original web builder dies.

LINK 1



Female Giant House Spider



 

Male Giant House Spider

This adult male Eratigena atrica had a measured leg-span of around 70mm. Shortly after these photos were taken the spider began the process of sloughing (shedding its old skin). The entire process took two hours to complete and when the spider was able to stand and stretch its new legs it now had a leg-span of 85mm!




Female Giant House Spider. From my SE London home 22nd <ay 2017





The cephalothorax splits across the back and the spider begins the arduous task of forcing itself out of the old skin. This is done in several stages with the spider taking time to rest regularly while it regains its strength before continuing. The only part of the spider that is attached to the old skin is at the base of the abdomen.



Eventually the spider breaks free and lays motionless for several minutes, completely exhausted. In this exhausted state the spider is highly vulnerable.



When the spider has regained enough energy it prepares itself to stand on its new legs. Spiders are exo-skeletal so at this stage the limbs are still very soft and flexible and are unable to support the weight of the spider.



The spider finally manages to get itself upright. It quickly stretches out its new legs. Here it must remain and wait patiently while the new skin hardens sufficiently to fully support the spider. The soft new skin is quite translucent and the spider looks very different than before. 



After waiting for over an hour the spider's skin is now able to provide the skeletal support enabling the spider to walk once again. The spider is still exhausted and the new skin has still not fully hardened so once able to walk the spider abandons the old slough and heads off seeking cover where it can hide until fully recovered.



The old abandoned slough is 20% smaller than the newly emerged spider.



 





Who are you sharing your home with?

Male spiders often go in search of females to mate with during the Autumn months. This search often takes them into people's houses. The sheer size of species such as Eratigena atrica can be quite alarming to anyone who suffers with a fear of spiders, but these are not an aggressive species at all and they very rarely bite humans. If found in the home just capture them in a glass and pop them back outside where they belong.



Spiders are often found in bath tubs and sinks. Despite common believes, spiders do not climb up through plugholes. They enter your home through open doors, windows, gaps in flooring and air-vents. Once on the slippery edge of a clean bath or sink they can easily slip and fall into the basin and are unable to climb out again without assistance. 













Female Eratigena sp. with a 45mm leg-span





13mm female Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) found under a log at Richmond Park, London, 20th October 2020

Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis)

The Hobo Spider is another close relative of the House Spider. In the UK the Hobo Spider is not usually associated with human habitations but is frequently found in fields or on waste-ground under logs and rocks. They are also often found along railway edges. Another common name for this species is the Aggressive House Spider which is completely unfitting for this docile species. Adult females have a body-length of 11-15mm whilst the smaller males grow to 8-11mm. Both sexes are most often recorded in late summer and autumn. The legs of the Hobo Spider tend to be less hairy than other species of the Eratigena genus.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


13mm female Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) found under a log at Richmond Park, London, 20th October 2020

This female Hobo Spider is suffering with an infestation of parasitic mites.




14mm female Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) found under loose tree bark, SE London, 28th December 2020






14mm female Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) found under loose tree bark, SE London, 28th December 2020






Female Tegenatia domestica

Common House Spider  (Tegenaria domestica)

The Common House Spider has a body length of up to 10mm. The webs are sheet-like and often have a tubular retreat at one point. There are several species of House Spider in the UK belonging to the Tegenaria family. These spiders are often referred to as "Tegs". 





 Adult Female Segestria florentina

Green-Fanged Tube-Web Spider  (Segestria florentina)

The  Green-Fanged Tube-Web Spider is a large heavily built spider, by UK standards, that originated from the Mediterranean, and first was recorded in the UK in 1816 by Dr William Elford Leach, who found the specimen in his cellar in Plymouth. At that time the species was known as Segestria cellaria, and one of the common names that was used was the Cellar Spider, which is not exclusive to this species. Currently in the UK this spider is only established in the southern half of Britain, but its range is increasing and spreading further north each year. They are more abundant around ports which suggests they probably arrived in the UK originally as stowaways on ships. The Tube-Web Spider usually has a body-length of around 10-16mm for males and 13-23mm for females. Occasionally specimens can grow close to 30mm, with a leg-span of over 45mm. The Tube Web Spider is generally nocturnal. They are usually found in holes and cracks in walls where they retreat into a small tube shaped web with trip-lines radiating from the entrance to the lair, where they spend most of their time. If the trip lines are accidentally triggered by wandering insects then the spider dashes out of its lair at great speed and inflicts a deep bite, usually to the head of its victim, and quickly drags it back into its lair before the venom can take affect. Rather than waiting for the venom to take affect it relies on its strength to subdue and immobilize its prey whilst the venom starts to work. 

When hungry enough these spiders will also leave their lair and actively hunt down their prey at night. Male specimens will also leave their lair in search for females. Adult specimens are dark black or very dark brown. Younger adults and immature specimens are brown. This species turns from brown to black as it matures. The front legs are the first to turn black. It's not unusual to find newly matured specimens with the front half of their body, and the front six legs, entirely black, whilst the abdomen and the rear legs are still brown. Juveniles and sub-adults also have stripy legs. This species is sometimes also known as the Bronzed Tube-Weaver.

Segestria florentina is sometimes referred to as the Green-Fanged Tube-Web Spider due to the distinctive green, iridescent, metallic shine to their chelicerae (fang casings). The iridescent sheen found on the chelicerae of Segestria florentina is often very subtle though on many specimens, especially those that have recently shed their old skin. This sheen builds up over time. A specimen that has recently moulted will exhibit no iridescence at first, however the old cast off exoskeleton will still show high levels of iridescence on the chelicerae. The iridescence also has to be viewed from the right angle to be seen. The metallic green, iridescent chelicerae are usually far more obvious on female specimens. Males also seem to retain their well defined abdominal markings through to adulthood, whilst the abdominal markings of adult female specimens are usually faded. Males are far more likely to be encountered outside of their tube-web retreat than the females. The mature male Segestria florentina doesn't have obvious palpal bulbs to clearly indicate their sex though. 

There are two other species of Tube-Web Spider in the UK, Segestria senoculata, which is smaller, paler and very widespread across the UK, and Segestria bavarica, which is rare and confined to a small number of coastal sites in South-West England and North Wales. However, Segestria florentina can usually be easily identified even when hiding in its lair as it's the only species to have the distinctive metallic green chelicerae. Recently moulted Segestria florentina can be difficult to identify as they won't exhibit this green iridescence on their chelicerae. Adult Segestria florentina are easily distinguished as they tend to be very dark, especially their front half. But younger specimens are more pale and have annulated legs, which makes them easily confused with Segestria senoculata.

Another way to separate juvenile Segestria florentina from Segestria senoculata is to take a very close look at the cephalothoraxSegestria florentina can be distinguished by the presence of fine, white hairs on the cephalothorax, which are not found on the smooth, shiny cephalothorax of Segestria senoculata. These hairs are tiny and can be very difficult to see though.

LINK 1    LINK 2

Adult female Tube Web Spider

One key identifying feature of the Tube Web Spider is its legs. Most spiders have two pairs of legs that face forwards and two pairs of legs that face backwards. At rest the Tube Web Spider has three pairs of legs that face forward and just one pair facing backwards. This is a evolutionary adaptation to living in a lair and gives the Tube Web Spider great speed when launching out from its retreat and incredible strength when dragging struggling prey backwards into its lair.



A large and very dark Adult female Tube Web Spider with a leg-span of 45mm.




A large and very dark Adult female Tube Web Spider with a leg-span of 45mm.





A young female Tube Web Spider found in my garden in SE London 18th June 2020.

This young Tube Web Spider (Segestria florentina) with a body-length of less than 10mm, was found walking across my patio on a very hot sunny day. I usually take photos from more angles than this but I wasn't ready for how fast this young specimen would be. It quickly ran and jumped off my table and disappeared in a flash, so I had to settle for these four angles.




Female Tube-Web Spider on the side of my SE London house, 7th July 2021.





Female Tube-Web Spider on the side of my SE London house, 14th November 2022.





Female Tube-Web Spider on the side of my SE London house, 14th November 2022.





Tube-Web Spider (Segestria florentina) hiding in the Dock Wall at Sheerness Docks 25th November 2020.

The Yellow-Tailed Scorpions, famous for inhabiting the old Dock Wall at Sheerness, are not the only ambush predators that hide away within the crumbling mortar of the old Dock Wall. There is also an abundance of Tube-Web Spiders with their distinctive tube webs, radiating signal lines and menacing green chelicerae that lie in wait for passing prey. At this site I would expect young scorpions to be prey to the larger Tube-Web Spiders and young Tube-Web Spiders to be prey to the adult Yellow-Tailed Scorpions.



Tube-Web Spider web (Segestria florentina) on the Great Dockyard Wall at Sheerness Docks 25th August 2022.

One of the many distinctive webs of the Tube-Web Spider web, Segestria florentina, with their radiating signal lines that stretch out across the Great Dockyard Wall at Sheerness Docks.



Another of the Tube-Web Spider webs on the Great Dockyard Wall at Sheerness Docks 25th August 2022.





Adult female Tube Web Spider

These spiders have reputation for their aggression and the bite is reportedly very painful to humans causing swelling and tenderness to the bitten area with the pain lasting for several hours or days. These spiders have also made headlines in the press with more ridiculous headlines such as "Giant green fanged spiders invade homes in UK!".




Juvenile Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, waiting at the edge of its lair, on my SE London garden fence on the evening of 14th May 2022.





20mm Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, found indoors, photographed on some twigs, and then released back outside my house. 5th September 2022.

This female specimen had a leg-span of over 45mm and a body-length of around 20mm. Although primarily dark brown in colour the tip of one of its front legs had already started to turn black.

This image proved to be very popular on Facebook, with over 600 likes.   LINK


20mm Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, found indoors, photographed on some twigs, and then released back outside my house. 5th September 2022.





11mm juvenile Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, on my SE London shed door, 15th April 2023.

On 15th April 2023 I opened my shed door, in SE London, and this 11mm juvenile Tube-web Spider (Segestria florentina) fell right on me. The spider then fell to the floor and curled up in a ball, hoping that I wouldn't notice it. With a body-length of 11mm, light colouration, and slightly visible leg-annulations, this was clearly still a juvenile specimen. I thought it only fit that I subject it to a few photos before releasing it back onto my shed.

These two images received a lot of interest on the Springwatch / Autumn Watch Facebook group, with over 735 likes and over 315 comments. They were also popular on the British Spider ID group too, with over 435 likes. Sharing these photos, and this story, in Facebook groups generated a great deal of interest with members of the public. It provided a great teaching opportunity with many people asking questions about these spiders.


11mm juvenile Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, on my SE London shed door, 15th April 2023.





16mm Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, that wandered across my bathroom floor on the evening of 19th February 2022

 The spider was photographed on some twigs, and then released back outside my house. 




16mm Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, that wandered across my bathroom floor on the evening of 19th February 2022

 The spider was photographed on some twigs, and then released back outside my house. 




It didn't end well for this juvenile Steatoda nobilis that wandered into the trip-lines of a juvenile Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina,

On 14th May 2022 I went out in my SE London garden to see what spiders out and about on that warm evening. As usual the Noble False Widows, Steatoda nobilis, were represented in huge numbers. I stopped counting at 50 specimens. Most were juveniles or sub-adults though.
But that doesn't mean that Steatoda nobilis get it all their own way in my garden. This juvenile Steatoda nobilis wandered into the trip-lines of a juvenile Tube-Web Spider, Segestria florentina, and was quickly subdued and dragged back into the lair of the young Tube-Web Spider. Whilst Steatoda nobilis are a hugely successful species, with a potent venom,  they are no match for the speed, strength and aggression of Segestria florentina in a one to one battle.



Unusually large 9mm female Spitting Spider found wandering at night in my bathroom, June 2008.

Spitting Spider  (Scytodes thoracica)  

The Spitting Spider is a small but distinctive species in the UK, with a body-length of around 3-6mm or occasionally larger. They are widespread in the southern half of England where they are described as "uncommon". The head and body are pale creamy-brown with dark brown or black spots and markings. This spider gets its name from its unusual hunting method. As a slow moving spider that doesn't make a web to catch its prey, the Spitting Spider has developed a unique method of hunting. This nocturnal spider has silk glands connected to its venom glands. Once close enough to its prey the Spitting Spider can spray sticky silky strands soaked in venom at its prey, or in self defence at an attacker. The victim is quickly stuck to the surface and unable to move. The Spitting Spider then moves in for the kill with venomous bites. Once dead the prey is removed from the sticky mess and eaten. The Spitting Spider is a largely synanthropic species and all specimens I have encountered have been found wandering the walls of my SE London home at night during summer and autumn evenings.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Small 3mm Spitting Spider found in my bedroom August 2018.

The Spitting Spider likes warm conditions and here in the UK Spitting Spiders are usually only found in houses and other heated buildings rather than outdoors. On warm summer nights they can sometimes be spotted on garden fences too. Spitting Spiders are nocturnal and most are noticed on indoor walls and ceilings when people enter a dark room in the night and turn the light on.



Adult female 6mm Spitting Spider found in my hallway June 2019 at 9pm.

Female Spitting Spiders do not reach adult maturity until two or three years of age.



3mm Spitting Spider, found in our bath at 4am on 23rd September 2020, and photographed on the back of a DVD disc.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.

My wife and I keep a competitive score of how many Spitting Spiders we have found in our SE London home over the last 20 years. This specimen brings the score to 5 for me, and 3 for my wife. Credit must go to my wife who found the first specimen though.



Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





Adult female 4.5mm Spitting Spider found on the bathroom wall at 9pm, 22nd September 2023.





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Harvestmen  (Opilones)

There are around 30 species of Harvestmen in the UK. Harvestmen are not spiders but they are a separate class of arachnid in the same way that scorpions are. They do not possess silk glands so they cannot spin a web. Neither do they possess fangs or venom. They do possess odiferous glands that can produce a foul-smelling fluid which the Harvestman releases as its defence. Harvestmen catch their prey with small hooks at the end of their legs. The body of a Harvestman comprises of one single part, rather than two parts as spiders do. Most species of Harvestman have just two eyes, mounted in turrets towards the front of their back, unlike spiders which usually have six or eight eyes.

LINK 1    LINK 2



Large Opilio canestrinii with a 115mm leg-span, photographed in my garden in SE London 29/08/2016

Opilio canestrinii

Opilio canestrinii are an invasive and non-native species of Harvestman first recorded in the UK in October 1999. They are now widespread in the UK and are one of the largest Harvestmen with a leg-span sometimes reaching 120mm. The body-length is usually only 6mm for males and 8mm for females. This species is a nocturnal hunter and is common in urban areas. During the day it can often be found inactive on walls and fences with its legs spread wide. 

Harvestmen are usually carnivores or omnivores. Opilio canestrinii are scavengers and feed primarily on decaying invertebrates. They will also feed on small invertebrates and sometimes decaying plant matter too.  Here's an identifying tool for Harvestman

LINK 1    LINK 2

5.5mm Opilio canestrinii with a 80mm leg-span, photographed in a park in SE London 25th October 2022

Key identifying features for Opilio canestrinii include the pattern of crescent moons on the saddle, and the pale orange trochanters with darker legs.




5.5mm Opilio canestrinii with a 80mm leg-span, photographed in a park in SE London 25th October 2022





5.5mm Opilio canestrinii with a 80mm leg-span, photographed in a park in SE London 25th October 2022





5.5mm Opilio canestrinii with a 80mm leg-span, photographed in a park in SE London 25th October 2022





5.5mm Opilio canestrinii with a 80mm leg-span, photographed in a park in SE London 25th October 2022





5.5mm Opilio canestrinii with a 80mm leg-span, photographed in a park in SE London 25th October 2022





A large-bodied Odiellus spinosus photographed in my garden in SE London 06/06/2019

Odiellus spinosus

Odiellus spinosus are a large-bodied Harvestman, with adult males having a body-length of up to 8mm and females having a body-length of up to 11mm. Legs are short to medium length. This species has three large spines of almost equal length in font of the eyes and a relatively flat body.

LINK 1    LINK 2


9mm male Odiellus spinosus Harvestman, photographed in my garden in SE London 03/10/2022





9mm male Odiellus spinosus Harvestman, photographed in my garden in SE London 03/10/2022





5mm female Phalangium opilio Harvestman with a leg-span of around 40mm, found wandering through heather on Surrey heathland, 24th July 2020.

Phalangium opilio Harvestman

This species is regarded as the most widely distributed species of Harvestman in the world and is common across the UK. It has long legs and a body-length of 3.5 - 5mm. Males are far easier to identify having two horn-like projections at the front of their body. Adults are usually found in well vegetated areas during the summer and autumn but can be seen well into the winter on occasion up to the end of December. The Phalangium opilio Harvestman is often seen hunting for soft-bodied insects amidst vegetation. This species has also been known to feed on carrion. 

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


5mm female Phalangium opilio Harvestman with a leg-span of around 40mm, found wandering through heather on Surrey heathland, 24th July 2020.





 European Harvestmen (Leiobunum rotundum), found on nettles and hedgerows in Lullingstone, Kent, 19th August 2021

European Harvestman  (Leiobunum rotundum)

Leiobunum rotundum is a common and widespread species of very long-legged harvestman, often found on low vegetation, particularly nettles. They are also frequently encountered on tree trunks, fence posts, house walls, gardens, woodlands and heaths. Leiobunum rotundum generally favours shady and moist environments. Adults can usually be found from July until November or even December, but some adults have been recorded from as early as May. Males (image 1 above) have an orange body whilst females (images 2-4) usually display some degree of orange colouration but also have a darker median stripe on the top of the body.

This species is very similar in appearance to Leiobunum blackwalli and the two other recently introduced Leiobunum species: L. gracile and the as yet unnamed L. sp.A.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3





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British Spider Factsheets available here:  BAS Factsheets



Spiders Known to Bite Humans

The Natural History Museum previously displayed on its website, 14 documented cases of bites from domestic spiders to humans in the UK.

Positively identified spider bites came from:

  • Noble False Widow Spider - Steatoda nobilis

  • Woodlouse Spider - Dysdera crocata

  • Walnut Orb-weaver Spider - Nuctenea umbratica

  • False Widow Spider or Cupboard Spider - Steatoda grossa

  • Lace Weaver Spider - Amaurobius similis

  • Black Lace Weaver Spider - Amaurobius ferox

  • Mouse Spider - Herpyllus blackwalli

  • Rustic Wolf Spider - Trochosa ruricola

  • Bark Sac Spider - Clubiona corticalis

  • Stone Spider - Drassodes lapidosus

  • Cross or Garden Spider - Araneus diadematus

  • Wasp Spider - Argiope bruennichi

  • Money Spider - Leptohoptrum robustum

  • Tube Web Spider - Segestria florentina

The Natural History Museum also reported on spider bites from other species from outside the UK, which had come into this country, often hidden amidst imported fruit:

  • Exotic Sac Spider - Cheiracanthium species

  • Huntsman Spider - Heteropoda venatoria

  • Black Widow Spider - Latrodectus mactans

  • Mediterranean False Widow Spider - Steatoda paykulliana

See Natural History Museum link here.

This list is not fully inclusive and only includes proven cases. Many other species of spider in the UK may be capable of piercing the softer areas of human skin, especially on children. However, it is important to remember that spiders will only bite humans in self defence.



Spider Bite Information

The NHS gives the following advice regarding spider bites: In most cases, spider bites do not require medical attention and symptoms can be treated at home, by washing the bite area with soap and water. Applying a cold, moistened flannel or cloth on the bite can help reduce any swelling. Infections are usually caused by scratching so don't scratch the bite. If necessary, take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain.


In rare cases though, wasp / bee stings can cause anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis requires urgent medical treatment. As yet there have been no proven cases of any spider bites in the UK that have resulted in anaphylaxis, although in theory it is possible.


Call 999 for an ambulance if the person who has been bitten has symptoms such as:

  • Wheezing or breathing difficulty

  • Tongue or lip swelling

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea

  • Fast heart rate

  • Dizziness or feeling faint

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Confusion, anxiety or feeling agitated



Seek medical advice if there is a considerable swelling, blistering or pus. 

More can be read about spider bites here : Buglife Spider bites info.    Spider bite Factsheet

 

Are there any effective spider repellents?

As far as I'm aware there are no proven spider repellents. There are conflicting reports on whether any of the deterrents you can buy are effective or not. Horse-Chestnuts are one of the natural deterrents that some people swear by, claiming that a bowl of conkers left by doors and windows will deter spiders from entering the house. In order for this to have any effect the cases of the conkers would need to have holes drilled in them to release the odour of the saponin compound found in the conkers. This certainly isn't an effective repellent to all spiders but it may or may not be effective on some species of spider, such as the Giant House Spider. 

A paper by German chemist Hartmut Foerster described the saponin compound found in Horse-Chestnuts as "toxic to insects" but Dr Geoff Oxford of the British Arachnological Society was quick to point out that the Royal Society of Chemists had debunked this theory as a myth back in 2010!  -  LINK

There are other products that despite having no scientific support, some people claim to have had success in deterring spiders from entering their houses with. These include:

Spraying peppermint oil & vinegar around doors and windows, whilst others claim using WD40 has the same effect. Lavender, citronella, cinnamon, garlic, eucalyptus sprigs and tea tree oil all have their own supporters that claim to serve as spider repellents. Although I have personally photographed spiders in my garden living on both peppermint and lavender plants. I have also seen spiders living on both Walnut and Horse-Chestnut trees so if spiders are not repelled by these plants and trees outside it is hard to believe that they would be repelled by them indoors either.

Unfortunately spiders do not have scent glands that interpret smells in the same way that mammals do and they use touch to smell objects. So it is unlikely that the scent of any claimed repellent will be effective.

There are some things you can do that may help to reduce the number of spiders in your home. Keep your house clean! Regular dusting and vacuuming can collect dust particles which can provide a food source for insects that spiders feed on. Vacuuming also collects any egg-sacs which spiders may have deposited around your home. Keep doors and windows closed as the summer comes to an end and temperatures start to drop, especially at night. Fill any holes and gaps that insects could use to enter your home. Keep the outside of your home free from hanging / climbing plants such as Ivy, and remove any collected leaves and debris from the bottom of your outside walls as these can provide excellent hiding places for spiders. Porch lights will attract moths and other flying insects at night, which will in turn also attract spiders to feed on the moths. So you may want to leave these lights off if you're bothered by spiders.

I am sceptical but many people claim to have success using an electronic spider repellent that works by emitting a combination of electro-magnetic waves and ultrasonic frequencies, which make your home an uncomfortable environment for spiders, insects and rodents and encourage them to leave after 2-4 weeks. Here is one popular product:  Spider Repellent



Interesting Spider Facts

1)  Arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) is the most common fear in the world, followed by the fear of snakes and then the fear of heights.  See list here

2)  Spiders have 48 knees. (6 joints per leg)

3)  The Bagheera kiplingi species of spider is mostly vegetarian.

4)  The Himalayan Jumping Spider (Euohrys omnisupertes) is found 22,000ft above sea level on Mount Everest and is the highest living animal in the world. They feed on insects blown upwards by the wind.

5)  Jumping Spiders brains are too big to fit in their heads and continue into their front legs.

6)  Jumping Spiders use hydraulics to propel themselves. 

7)  Spiders breathe through their tummies. 

8)  Spiders have been around since 150 million years before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  (LINK)

9)  Faithful Muslims consider killing spiders ('ankabūt) to be a sin. A spider is told to have saved Muhammad and Abu Bakr, by spinning a web over the entrance to the cave in which they hid from their enemies. Because of the presence of the spider's web over the cave entrance, their persecutors assumed the cave must have been empty and passed on by.




SENDING SPIDERS THROUGH THE POST

For the purposes of identification, study and research, or to provide a non-native species with a forever home, it is sometimes necessary to send spiders through the post. With a little thought and care this can be done safely without risk of the spider being harmed or escaping during transit.

A small sturdy container is essential to ensure the spider cannot be crushed. For small spiders the best containers to use are sterilised specimen containers , as used by the medical world for the collection and transportation of biological samples, such as blood, tissue and urine. These can be bought cheaply online or from a good local pharmacy. If these are not available then any small, secure and sturdy plastic pot can be used.

Inside the container it's important to place a piece of very loosely screwed up tissue paper, with enough gaps for the spider to crawl inside. This not only gives the spider somewhere to hide but gives it something to hold onto and stops it being shaken about too much during transit. Give the tissue paper a very light misting of water from a spray bottle, but be careful not to soak it. This will help create a little humidity and prevent the spider from becoming dehydrated during transit. Ensure the lids of any spider containers are tightened securely and place a piece of sticky-tape around the edge to prevent them from coming open.

If you can place the container holding the spider within a cardboard box, and surround it with packing material such as polystyrene packing chips or bubblewrap, this will further reduce the risk of the spider being crushed during transit. The outer packaging should be sealed with sticky-tape and marked as “fragile” or “live specimen”. Due to phobias, discrimination and ignorance it’s probably best not to write anything on the packaging that would indicate the package contains a spider.

To keep the spider’s journey as brief as possible it’s best to place them into the packaging at the last possible opportunity and to send them via a 24hr service, such as Royal Mail’s Special Delivery or Tracked service. There should be more than enough oxygen within the container to last the spider at least a few days.

If regular First Class postage is used then you may need to consider posting the spider in a container that has air-holes, or placing air-holes yourself in the lid of a sterilised specimen container. I have found the easiest way to make airholes is to hold a pin with a pair of pliers and heat it up over a naked flame. The heated pin can then easily melt tiny air-holes in the top of the lid.

Be sure to place your return address in case the package cannot be delivered for any reason. Now that the package is ready let the recipient know as soon as the item is posted so they can know when to expect delivery. 

I've been very fortunate to have received many spiders sent to me through the post and all have arrived safely and in perfect condition. I would like to express my sincere thanks to those kind and generous folk who have sent specimens to me so they could be photographed and added to my website.





Spiders in Bananas

Spiders, or their egg-sacs, do occasionally turn up as accidental imports hidden amidst imported bananas. The media love to sensationalise and regularly report that spiders found with imported bananas are Phoneutria species, commonly known as the Brazilian Wandering Spiders. The Brazilian Wandering Spider are highly venomous and dangerous species that are native to South America. However it's incredibly rare for these species to arrive in the UK as an accidental import. One very similar looking spider, that's closely related to the Brazilian Wandering Spider, is the Ornate Arboreal Wandering Spider, Acanthoctenus sp. The Ornate Arboreal Wandering Spider is a harmless species to humans, but egg-sacs of this species do arrive in the UK fairly regularly, attached to imported bananas. Adult specimens rarely arrive in this country still alive, and those specimens that do survive the importation process would not last long in the UK's temperate climate. There's no confusing the egg-sacs either. Whilst the egg-sacs of the Ornate Arboreal Wandering Spider are found on bananas the egg-sacs of  Brazilian Wandering Spiders are huge by comparison and cannot be easily confused.

The term "Brazilian Wandering Spider" covers all species within the highly venomous Phoneutria genus, but it is most commonly used when referring to Phoneutria fera and Phoneutria nigriventer. Phoneutria species form one genus within the family Ctenidae. Spiders within the Ctenidae family are highly venomous, nocturnal hunters, that are known for their very defensive behaviour.