If your afraid of spiders then don’t read this!
For arachnophobes it may not be welcome news – Britain’s largest spider is starting to make a comeback.
The fen raft spider, which can have an adult leg span of up to four inches across and bodies an inch long, has successfully bred at a new location in the wild for the first time in more than 20 years.
The spiders, which earn their name due to their ability to sit on top of the water surface, are one of the country’s rarest arachnids and had become restricted to just three tiny sites in the fens of Norfolk, Sussex and south Wales.
Now conservation experts believe the dark brown creatures have established themselves in a new area after discovering spiders they released into the wild two years ago are breeding by themselves.
They have found more than 40 nursery webs each containing up to 700 spiderlings at the Castle Marshes nature reserve, near Beccles, Suffolk.
Dr Helen Smith, an ecologist who has been leading the reintroduction programme said it marked a major “milestone” in the attempt to help the spiders recover.
The breeding spiders were found after nearly 1,600 hand-reared spiderlings were released at Castle Marshes in 2010 as part of a desperate attempt to help the population of the fen raft spider recover.
Despite their large size, the species were only discovered in the UK in 1956, by which time large areas of their potential habitat had already been destroyed through draining of the fens and agriculture. They have experienced similar declines in other parts of Europe.
“ We wouldn’t like to come across these spiders in the bath” says Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire