False Widow + Spotted Wolf Spiders

The UK has over 600 different species of spider, most of which I never knew existed, and I have probably only seen a mere 10 of them. But in this first week of May I have been lucky enough to see two spiders new to me. I'm not usually a spider-person, but these two got me interested, and after searching the web, I think these two species deserve their own post.

The first species is truly a British arachnophobe's nightmare. Last week, my parents were clearing out our garden. My Dad found a bag of compost in the corner of the garden, which we think has been there for at least a year. When emptying it, he found a spider he had never seen before near the bottom of the bag. A few minutes later, I was there with the camera. I was surprised by how big it was, and I had never seen a spider like it before. It took quite a bit of research to find out that it was in fact a False Widow Spider. 

The media have been reporting that numbers are on the rise, and there are numerous articles stating that they are "Britain's most venomous spider". But this is generally not the case. Bites are very rare, and you would have to try pretty hard to be bitten by a false widow. Bites are most common when the spider is badly handled or becomes trapped in clothing. Bites from these spiders have been reported as being painful, similar to a bee sting, and sometimes small amounts of swelling could occur. The only case where the bites could be considered deadly is when other factors come into play, such as bacterial infection of the bite, or an allergic reaction. Statistically, even if you have these spiders living in your house, you're more likely to be stung by a wasp or bitten by a dog, both of which are more likely to be severe than a bite from a false widow. Some media reports include that a school had to be closed because of a false widow, and that a footballer was left in a serious condition after a bite. But these dramatic symptoms were reported as being caused by an allergic reaction, and not by the bite itself. Such reports have been accused of 'scaremongering'. It seems there is a disproportionate worry about these creatures.

If you want more information, see these links: NHMBBC, BritishSpiders.

Now here is the false widow we found in our garden:

False Widow
False Widow

Now onto the second spider species.

We saw this second species whilst in Papercourt last Monday (see the post here). We were around half way round the circuit, when we stopped in a small open space next to the main lake. When I crouched down, I realised that running around our feet were lots of small-ish spiders. The larger ones were different though. On closer inspection, I realised that they had small egg sacs on the underside of their abdomen. I took some pictures and when I got home, I found the species in question.

They were Spotted Wolf Spiders. This species is very interesting. The ones I had seen were in fact females, and they were carrying their egg sacs around with them for safe keeping. When the eggs hatch, she keeps her spiderlings on her back until they're big enough to fend for themselves. If you're an arachnophobe, don't search up images of wolf spiders with spiderlings on their back, it made my skin crawl. Spotted Wolf Spiders also hunt differently to other spiders. Instead of spinning a web, they prefer to catch their prey by running it down, which could be a link to their name. They're common throughout the UK, so get out and have a look, you never know what you may find.

Spotted Wolf Spider - with egg case
Female Spotted Wolf Spider

I have never been into spiders, but after seeing these two amazing British species, I have to confess I am beginning to like them more. 
Thank you for reading.


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