Throughout the last year or so, I've been seeking out and documenting spiders in and around our local area in Yorkshire, England. Scroll down to see a few of the highlights and check out the species page for a full list of finds.
Spiders are fascinating creatures that are hugely diverse in both appearance and behaviour. They are the largest order of arachnid, with around 50,000 known species and 650 species found here in the UK.
To learn more about spiders make sure you check out the British Arachnological Society website. Here you can find lots of excellent factsheets as well as a comprehensive list of UK species, including season and habitat data and distribution maps.
Visit the spider species page
With the characteristic row of large front eyes (two large principal eyes and two smaller lateral eyes), Salticidae are one of the most endearing family of spiders. You might even call them cute. The common name 'Jumping Spider' comes from the manner in which Salticidae hunt for prey. Using the large eyes to help detect and track prey from a distance, they sneak closer and pounce with their short but strong legs.
Spiders can be found in many types of habitat but some are synanthropic, meaning they live alongside and benefit from human activity. In Britain, Cellar Spiders (Pholcus sp.) live almost exclusively in buildings where they benefit from the warmth and shelter provided. Other spiders, such as Giant House Spiders (Eratigena sp.) are found in and around houses but can also be found far from human habitation. Garden fences, sheds, window sills and plant pots all make great homes for spiders and I often look for them after dark when many become more active.
Gardens are a great place to look for spiders at any time of the year. It's worth creating spider friendly habitats by keeping gardens as natural as possible, leaving leaf litter on the ground and placing stones and logs around borders. The European Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) is common in Britain and often found making webs on bushes, fences and bins. Here are a few that I've regularly foundnd in our garden over the last year.
Wolf spiders are fast and agile hunters that will chase and hunt down their prey, just like a wolf. However, unlike wolves, Lycosidae hunt alone not in packs. They can be found in a wide range of habitat but don't make webs. Look out for Wolf Spiders on warm days in low vegetation and often bathing in the sun. Lycosidae are the only family that carry their egg sacs attached to the spinnerettes and immediately after the eggs hatch, the spiderlings climb on the mothers back.
On the morning of 31st January 2022 I visited Lofthouse Colliery Nature Park in Wakefield and ventured deep into the woods, far from the beaten track. I stumbled upon a mysterious, sealed blue barrel and decided to open it. Inside was some rope, a cloth and a Clubiona spider.
I don't usually keep the spiders I find but this had a parasitic wasp larva attached and whenever I post pics of these people ask if I reared the wasp. Well, this time I did...