There are around 650 - 700 known species of spider in the UK. Many of these are so similar in appearance that they can only be accurately identified under a microscope. At least 14 species have been confirmed by the NHM to bite humans if handled roughly, laid / sat on or threaten. None of which are considered to be aggressive or dangerous to Humans though. Spiders play a vital role in stabilising the numbers of other insects that are considered a nuisance to Humans, including gnats, mosquitoes, wasps and flies.

CLICK HERE FOR:  Page 2 - LARGE ORB-WEAVERS,   Page 3 - JUMPING SPIDERS,   Page 4 - FALSE WIDOW SPIDERS


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

Spotted Wolf Spider   (Pardosa amentata)

The Spotted Wolf Spider is a member of the Lycosidae family which has over 2400 species. Several of these species of Wolf Spider live in the UK and they are very difficult to tell apart. Wolf Spiders get there name because they actively hunt down their prey rather using webs. Spotted Wolf Spiders are very fast runners enabling them to chase and catch their prey. Females carry their egg-sac at the base of their abdomen held on by the spinnerets. Two of the eyes of a Wolf Spider are considerably larger than their other eyes and these spiders have excellent eye-sight.


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




Female Spotted Wolf Spider carrying spiderlings  (Pardosa amentata)




Female Spotted Wolf Spider carrying spiderlings  (Pardosa amentata)





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. They are fairly small spiders with a body length of 5-10mm, and a leg-span of 10-20mm. Like many Wolf Spiders that chase down their prey, these are very fast runners for their size.


Male Common Fox Spider   (Alopecosa pulverulenta)






Sub-adult Easter Common Fox Spider   (Alopecosa cf barbipes)

Easter Fox Spider   (Alopecosa barbipes)

The Easter Fox Spider is a another British Wolf Spider.





Female Horse-Head Spider   (Stemonyphantes lineatus)

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



Female Common Hammock-Weaver Spider  (Linyphia triangularis)

Common Hammock-Weaver / European Sheetweb Spider  (Linyphia triangularis)

The Common Hammock-Weaver is a widespread 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 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.




Female Misty Ground Weaver - (Megalepthyphantes cf nebulous)

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

A small sheetweb weaving spider, with a maximum bodylength 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 more than one species of Megalepthyphantes in the UK and they cannot be separated with the naked eye, however Megalepthyphantes nebulous is the most likely.


LINK 1      LINK 2


Male Misty Ground Weaver - (Megalepthyphantes cf nebulous)




Male Megalepthyphantes sp.






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. 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 6mm whilst many have a body-length of just 1mm!

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3




Female Missing Sector Orb Weaver   (Zygiella x-notata)

Missing Sector Orb Weaver Spider   (Zygiella x-notata and Zygiella atrica)

A small orb weaving spider, with a maximum bodylength of 11mm for females and 7mm for females. Widespread across the UK especially in the SE of England. Often found in warmer areas on the outside of buildings and window frames. Adult Missing Sector Orb Weavers build an orb web with two of the upper sectors missing connecting threads. Between these two bare sectors is the signal thread which leads to the spider's hideout. These spiders sit in the middle of their web during the evening and night time, and web repairs are done in the early hours of the morning. Both species of Missing Sector Orb Weaver can only be distinguished under a microscope. 

LINK 1      LINK 2    LINK 3    British Arachnological Society Factsheet


Female Missing Sector Orb Weaver  (Zygiella x-notata)

Both Zygiella x-notata and Zygiella atrica Missing Sector Orb Weavers can be difficult to tell apart. However, if a specimen has dark grey patches at the front of the abdomen either side of the midline, then the spider is likely to be Zygiella x-notata. If the dark patches are pinkish red then the spider is likely to be Zygiella atrica. 



Female Missing Sector Orb Weaver   (Zygiella x-notata)

The abdomen of this species is highly variable in colour as the three images above demonstrate. They can range from grey, silver, gold, brown or red. But all have the leaf shaped pattern on the top of the abdomen.



male Missing Sector Orb Weaver   (Zygiella x-notata)






Male Sac Spider   (Clubiona cf comta)

Sac Spider   (Clubiona comta)

The two very similar Bark Sac Spiders (Clubiona comta and Clubiona corticalis) prefer to hide themselves away beneath cracks and loose edges of tree bark, especially conifers. Sac Spiders produce a silken sac to hide away in. At night they actively hunt down their prey. Adults 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 photographing this spider it repeatedly jumped into the air by an inch or two whenever I approached it with my camera. This jumping behaviour is typical of this species and is used as a form of defence.

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)




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




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





Male Green Orb-Weaver Spider

Green Orb-Weaver Spider  / aka Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitina or opisthographa

There are two very similar species of Green Orb-Weaver Spider in the UK that can only be identified with a microscope. The Green Orb-Weaver Spider is very small with a body length of only 4-6mm. Green Orb-Weaver Spiders are a common native species that can be found throughout the UK and northern Europe. Despite their bright and almost fluorescent green colour theses tiny spiders can hide well camouflaged amongst  bushes, plants and hedgerows.  They usually go completely unnoticed until they stray from their usual habitat onto white uPVC windows or door frames in residential areas. The abdomen is bright green / yellow with small black dots. The underside of the abdomen also has a red spot, but this can fade in mature specimens. Young spiders may have a red spot on their head as well. Newly hatched spiderlings are red but their colour changes to brown before the autumn arrives.


Female Green Orb-Weaver Spider




Female Green Orb-Weaver Spider




Juvenile male Green Orb-Weaver Spider




Female Green Orb-Weaver Spider building a web in Common Nettles in North Kent 15/07/2019





2.5mm juvenile female Araniella sp Orb-Weaver Spider - (Araniella cf displicata).

Six-Spotted Orb-Weaver Spider  (Araniella displicata)

The Six-Spotted Orb-Weaver is a small Orb-Weaver Spider with very limited distribution in the UK where it is restricted to a few known sites in the SE of England. Adults have a body-length of around 4.5-8mm. Usually encountered in early to mid-summer in bushes and lower branches of trees, especially pine. Adults can be found from spring until late summer. After that juveniles can still be found and this species over-winters as a sub-adult. This species is highly variable in colour and can be brown, orange, red or yellow or a combination of these colours. The spider above is a young juvenile Araniella sp which may be the rare Six-Spotted Orb-Weaver. However this species is inseparable from others of its genus at this stage as juvenile Cucumber Spiders can be very variable in colour too, including shades of brown, and can appear identical to juvenile Six-Spotted Orb-Weavers at this young age.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4


Female Candy Stripe Spider (Green morph)

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

The Candy Stripe Spider is a member of the Comb-Footed Spider family. 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 come in several different colour morphs, The abdomens can be either pale green (or white) sometimes accompanied with green stripes and black spots, or yellow, or pale with two red stripes and black spots or pale with one bold red stripe and black spots. 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.

more information on the British Arachnological Society website here 


Female Candy Stripe Spider (Red / yellow morph)

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. Specimens with a single red / pink stripe are nearly always Enoplognatha latimana as opose to Enoplognatha ovata.



Male Candy Stripe Spider (Enoplognatha sp. form lineata)






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

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

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4



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

Mothercare Spider  (phylloneta sisyphia)

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



Male Tree Comb-Foot Spider 

Tree Comb-Foot Spider  (Anelosimus vittatus)

The Tree Comb-Foot Spider is very small with a maximum body length of around 3-4mm for both the male and female of the species. It builds its scaffold of webs in tall bushes, shrubs and trees, with a preference to oak. It is common across England but scarce in the rest of the UK. Adults specimens are found throughout spring and summer especially May and June.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3



Female Green Leaf Web Spider 

Green Leaf Web Spider (Nigma walckenaeri)

The Green Leaf Web Spider has a maximum body & head length of 5mm. The specimen above had a total legspan of just 7mm. They are usually only 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


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.




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






Adult female Common Orb-Weaver

Common Orb Weaver  aka Lesser Garden Spider, Stretch Spider.  (Meta / Metellina segmentata)

A commonly found orb-weaver spider in most types of habitats including gardens. They are a small spider with a body-length of 7-8mm. The abdomen can vary in colour from orange, yellow and red to dull light brown. Males are usually darker. When disturbed these spiders can lay with their legs fully stretched out in-font and behind them, giving rise to the name "Stretch Spider". When stretched out like this they can have a leg-span of up to an inch in length. These spiders belong to the Tetragnathidae family.




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 mirabilis

These spiders are grey or brown and are similar to Wolf Spiders. 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.


 

Female Nursery Web Spider



 

Male Nursery Web Spider





Female Nursery Web Spider basking in the sunshine with egg.



 

Female Nursery Web Spider





Female Nursery Web Spider






Female Stone Spider

Stone Spider  (Drassodes cupreus /  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.


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.



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.




Adult female Woodlouse Spider    (Dysdera crocata)

Woodlouse Spider    (Dysdera crocata)

Feeding mainly on Woodlice, the Woodlouse Spider has very powerful jaws capable of piercing Woodlice shells without difficulty. 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 with females having a body-length of up to 15mm and the males 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. A very similar but far rarer species Dysdera erythrina looks almost identical but is found in more natural habitats away from human habitation.

LINK 1        LINK 2        LINK 3


Adult female Woodlouse Spider    (Dysdera crocata)

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. This species is a nocturnal hunter and hides away in a silken retreat during the day.

LINK 4      LINK 5      LINK 6


Large adult female Woodlouse Spider (Dysdera crocata), missing a leg.




Adult female Woodlouse Spider    (Dysdera crocata)




Adult female Woodlouse Spider    (Dysdera crocata)






Female Black Lace Weaver

Black Lace Weaver / Web Spider  (Amaurobius ferox)

The female Black Lace Weaver Spider has a substantial body size of 16mm and a legspan 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 ferocious 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. 



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


Female Black Lace Weaver

There are three lace weaver species in the UK, Amaurobius similis, Amaurobius fenestralis and the larger Amaurobius ferox pictured above. All three species are similar in appearance but Amaurobius ferox & Amaurobius similis tend to be darker and larger as adults.

More information can be found here:    Amaurobius ferox Link 1       Amaurobius ferox Link 2




Female Amaurobius similis

Lace Weaver / Web Spider  (Amaurobius similis)

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. Females can be found all year, but males are usually only seen from June - November.





Adult female Cellar Spider

Daddy Long-Legs / Cellar Spider / Skull Spider (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. 

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).




8mm adult female Buzzing Spider, found wandering on my Ivy-covered garden fence in May.

Buzzing Spider (Pholcus phalangioides)

The Buzzing Spider is common and widespread in Southern England but its distribution becomes more scattered further north. They are usually found in wooded areas as they hunt and mate on the leaves of trees and bushes. Adult females grow up to 9mm and males 7mm. Females are pale in colour with distinctive black triangular markings on their abdomen. Males are often darker.

The male of the species earns the name by emitting a high pitched buzzing sound during courtship by vibrating its abdomen against leaves. Adults are found in early to mid-summer with some adult females hanging on until the end of summer. Juveniles can often be found in low vegetation.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3



Male 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 a hedgerow 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 and Agelena labyrinthica 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.

More info here:   Link 1   Link 2   Link 3


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!



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.





Adult female Lined Orb-Weaver Spider   -   Mangora acalypha

Lined Orb -Weaver Spider  /  Cricket-Bat Orb-Weaver    -   Mangora acalypha

The Lined Orb-Weaver Spider, from the family Araneidae (orb-weavers), produces small tightly woven orb-webs in low vegetation growing in dry sunny locations. This species is common throughout Europe but in the UK it is found mainly in the SE of England. They have a small body-length of 5-6mm for the female and 3-3.5mm for the male.

Adults are highly variable in colour but they have black stripes along the sides of the abdomen and a distinctive black rectangle marking with light spots on the top of the abdomen.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

Adult female Lined Orb-Weaver Spider in web  -   Mangora acalypha





Large female European Cave Spider, found in Kent under a manhole cover above a residential sewer outlet.

European Cave Spider  (Meta menardi)

There are two very similar species of Cave Spider in the UK which can only be distinguished by very close examination, Meta menardi and Meta bourneti. The European Cave Spider is one of the UK's largest spiders with a bulky body around 15mm in length and a leg-span sometimes exceeding 5cm. These gentle giants are capable of giving a sharp nip if provoked but are very reluctant to bite and can usually be handled gently without issue.

Although common across the UK they are a rarely encountered species due to their very specific habitat requirements. They are found in damp areas of complete darkness such as sewers, tunnels and caves. They are frequently seen living under manhole covers and occasionally in gardens under decking. They build large orb-webs but are usually seen waiting beside the web on the walls of their surroundings.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3


Female Giant House Spider
Giant House Spider  (Eratigena atrica)
The Giant House Spider is one of the UK's largest spiders and they have also been recorded as the fastest running spider in the world. Females have a body-length of 11-16mm, males 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 has been reclassified recently and is no longer in the House Spider genus. Once thought to be several different species including Tegenaria duellica, Tegenaria atrica, Tegenaria gigantea and Tegenaria saeva, but have now all been combined as one species - Eratigena atrica.


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!




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





Female Tegenatia domestica

Common House Spider  (Tegenatia 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

Tube Web Spider  (Segestria florentina)

The Tube Web Spider is a large heavily built spider (by UK standards) that originated from the Mediterranean and first recorded in the UK around 1900. This spider is only found in the south of Britain but its range is increasing. They are more abundant around ports. It usually has a body-size of around 22mm but they can grow to around 30mm with a leg-span of  over 45mm. The Tube Web Spider is generally nocturnal. They are often found in holes and cracks in walls where they retreat into a tube shaped web with trip-lines extending outside of the crevice where they are hiding. If the trip lines are triggered then the spider springs out of the hole biting the prey, usually by the head, and quickly dragging it back into its lair. When hungry enough these spiders will also leave their lair and actively hunt their pry at night. Adult specimens are dark black often with a distinctive green iridescent metallic shine to their fangs. Younger adults and immature specimens are brown. 

British Arachnological Society Factsheet

Adult female Tube Web Spider

One key identifying feature of the Tube Web Spider is its legs. At rest the Tube Web Spider has three pairs of legs that face forward and one pair facing backwards, whereas most spiders will have two pairs facing forward and two facing backwards.



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.





Adult female Tube Web Spider

These spiders are well known 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!".






Female Common Crab Spider - Xysticus cf cristatus

Crab Spider (family Thompisidae)

The Crab Spider is a group of free-roaming spiders that don't build webs. Instead they hides on plants and flowers and waits for an unsuspecting victim to land or stumble into its path before grabbing the prey with their powerful front legs and injecting a lethal dose of fast-acting venom. Their prey includes bees, wasps, flies and butterflies, and many of these can be considerably larger in size than the spider itself.

The Crab Spider pictured above is a Xysticus Sp. This group of Crab Spiders has 17 different species in Europe. This one is believed to be a Common Crab Spider (Xysticus cristatus) although identifying these species is very difficult without a microscope.


Female Common Crab Spider - Xysticus cf cristatus

Common Crab Spider  (Xysticus cristatus)

The Common Crab Spider is found in low vegetation and in leaf litter in a variety of habitats across the UK. Females reach a body-length of around 8mm whilst males are smaller at 5mm. May and June are the peak months for this species although they can be found from March to October. Some specimens have even been found in February and December.



Another Crab Spider form the group Xysticus Sp. (Ground Crab Spiders)



 

Turf Running Spider  (Philodromus cespitum 

Turf Running Spider  (Philodromus cespitum)  

Technically spiders from the group "Philodromus" are Running Crab Spiders and not true Crab Spiders. They do have similar eye and leg arrangements though.

This image is of a small Crab Spider form the group Philodromus Species. It is extremely difficult to identify exactly what species this is but I have been informed that it is most likely to be Philodromus cespitum, the Turf Running Spider. This Running Spider is common throughout Britain especially in the southern half, and is found in low vegetation. It has an average body-length of around 6mm.

LINK 1    LINK 2


Running Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf albidus)  

Running Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf albidus)  

Philodromus albidus  is another common and widespread small Running Crab Spider from the group Philodromus. This specimen had a body-length of just 4-5mm.

When species cannot be 100% positively identified, it is common practice to add "cf" in the middle of the Latin name to indicate that whilst the name given is highly likely it cannot be guaranteed without microscopic examination.



Running Crab Spider  (Philodromus cf albidus)  helping to keep the flies off my Porsche!





House Crab Spider  (Philodromus dispar)  

Another small and frequently encountered Running Crab Spider in England & Wales with a body length of 4-5mm for both sexes. Found in a variety of habitats especially low vegetation and bushes. They are also found in homes on occasion. The female is variable in colour but usually brown-yellow while the male has a dark upper body and head and white or light coloured legs and underside.

LINK  1    LINK  2    LINK  3



Adult female Misumena vatia

Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)

These true Crab Spiders are usually found hiding on white, yellow or pink flowers.  This Crab Spider is an excellent ambush predator with the ability to slowly change its body colour to match the flower that it is hiding on. This colour-changing process can take 6-25 days to complete. Changing from yellow to white can be done fairly quickly as the spider just has to secrete the yellow pigment. However changing from white to yellow takes far longer as the yellow pigment must be built up inside the spider.

This species has a wide range across Europe and the USA. In the UK it is common across the southern half of Wales & England especially around London and the south-east. Usually active from May-August but can be seen from April-September.



The male Crab Spider is much smaller than the aggressive and powerful female. Male spiders often risk injury or death during any attempt to mate with the female.




 

This male waits until the female is pre-occupied with killing a large hoverfly before jumping up and seizing this opportunity to mate. Some Crab Spiders are also known to tie up the female in silk-like web before attempting to mate.




Female Flower Crab Spider morphing from white to yellow.





Female Flower Crab Spider. Still holding on to her lunch in the centre photo.




Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) feeding on a smaller spider.




Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey by the side of my garden pond..




Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey by the side of my garden pond..




Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) with Solitary Bee





Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey by the side of my garden pond..




Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)





Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)





Female Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)





Flower Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) waiting to ambush its prey.





Unusually large 9mm female Spitting Spider found in my bathroom June 2008.

Spitting Spider  (Scytodes thoracica)  

The Spitting Spider is a small but distinctive species with a body-length of around 3-6mm or occasionally larger. They are usually found 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 another method of hunting. This spider has silk glands connected to its venom glands. When 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. Once dead the prey is removed from the sticky mess and eaten. 

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. Spitting Spiders are nocturnal and most are noticed on walls and ceilings when people enter a dark room in the summer months and turning 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.




Feather Legged Spider  /  Greenhouse Spider (Uloborus plumipes)

These small non-native spiders are often used in greenhouses and garden centres as a biological control for Greenfly, Whitefly and other pests. They are one of the only non-venomous spider species to be found. Females can have a maximum body-length of 6mm. Although non-native these spiders are now very well established in many greenhouses and garden centres across the England.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3



Feather-Legged Spider hanging upside down in its web.




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

Harvestmen  (Opilones)

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. There are around 30 species of Harvestmen in the UK. 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 on their back, unlike spiders which usually have eight or six eyes.

LINK 1    LINK 2

Opilio canestrini

Opilio canestrini 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 canestrini are scavengers and feed primarily on decaying invertebrates. They will also feed on small invertebrates and sometimes decaying plant matter too.

LINK 1    LINK 2


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





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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

  • Huntsman Spider - Heteropoda venatoria

  • Black Widow Spider - Latrodectus mactans

  • False Widow Spider - Steatoda paykulliana

See Natural History Museum link here.


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 prooven 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 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)



CLICK HERE FOR:  Page 2 - LARGE ORB-WEAVERS,   Page 3 - JUMPING SPIDERS,   Page 4 - FALSE WIDOW SPIDERS


If you suspect that you have found a dangerous non-native spider in the UK then you can send a high quality image to the NHM for identification:  ias2@nhm.ac.uk


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