Devon

Horrid ground-weaver spider 'filmed alive for first time'

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Media captionThe horrid ground-weaver has only ever been found in Plymouth, Devon

A new population of Britain's rarest spider has been found and captured on camera alive for the first time, conservationists have said.

The horrid ground-weaver has only ever been found at three sites in Plymouth, Devon.

But a fourth population has been found on an industrial site in the Cattedown area of the city, according to charity Buglife.

Conservationists said they were "delighted" with the discovery.

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Image copyright Buglife
Image caption The horrid ground-weaver has been photographed alive for the first time
Image copyright Buglife
Image caption The horrid ground-weaver has been found in a new site in Plymouth

The elusive spider previously caused plans for dozens of homes to be dismissed after it was decided the construction would be "harmful" to the spider.

Andrew Whitehouse, from Buglife, said: "We're delighted to announce that we've found the horrid ground-weaver at a new site, and to now have photographs of live horrid ground-weavers is wonderful.

"However, we need to continue the surveys and learn more about this special spider so we can ensure its survival."

Spider crowdfunder

Peter Smithers, an Associate Research Fellow at Plymouth University's School of Biological Sciences, said it was "incredibly exciting" because "virtually nothing is known about the spider".

Buglife said it was working with the site owners to ensure that the species was protected.

The new site has been discovered after more than £10,000 was raised through a crowdfunder appeal to support new surveys for the species across Plymouth and South Devon.

Image copyright Buglife
Image caption The horrid ground-weaver was first recorded in the UK in 1989

The horrid ground-weaver

  • The species is found in two old limestone quarries in the Plymouth area
  • Its total body length is just 2.5mm
  • It was first recorded in the UK in 1989
  • The spider is tricky to find due to its size and habit of living deep in the cracks and crevices in the limestone, coming out at night to hunt on the rock slopes

Source: Buglife

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