Highlands & Islands

Scotland-wide survey of spider species

Four-spotted orbweb Image copyright Chris Cathrine
Image caption Four-spotted orbweb spiders are among the hundreds of species found in Scotland

Information is being sought on spider species in Scotland.

The Wildlife Information Centre (TWIC), working with other organisations such as British Arachnological Society, has launched the Scottish Spider Search.

Records of four species in particular have been sought - the four-spotted orbweb, daddy long-legs, zebra and nurseryweb.

These spiders include the UK's heaviest and one that creeps up on its prey before pouncing.

Image copyright Colin Legg
Image caption The daddy long-legs spider is among those conservationists are keen to find

TWIC's centre manager Graeme Wilson said it was hoped the survey would gather new information on many of the hundreds of spider species found in Scotland with the help from the wider public.

He said: "Spiders may not be everyone's favourite creatures but they play a very important role in the natural world by controlling other species.

"Because there are so many different types of spiders, each with their own particular ecological requirements, surveying them is a good way to assess the health of habitats.

"This is why The Wildlife Information Centre, with the help of other conservation organisations like the British Arachnological Society, has launched the Scottish Spider Search to help increase the number of spider records in Scotland as they are very under-recorded at present."

He added: "We also hope that some people will really catch the spider bug by learning more about these interesting creatures and start recording some of the other over 400 spider species found in Scotland."

Aye-rachnid: Spiders and Scotland

Scotland has many close connections to the eight-legged beasties.

Robert the Bruce, Scotland's warrior king, was inspired to continue campaigning when he feared all was lost, after observing a spider's determination to spin a web.

Glasgow football club, Queen's Park FC, are nicknamed The Spiders. Among the club's rivals are Alloa Athletic, also known as The Wasps.

Scots comic book writer Mark Millar, whose most famous works include comic-to-movie-adaption tales Kick-Ass, Kingsmen: The Secret Service and Wanted, has written stories for Marvel's Spider-Man.

And Dundreggan, a large are of woodland that includes areas of ancient Caledonian Forest, is thought to hold Scotland's largest population of the colourful strawberry spider.

The four-spotted orbweb is the UK's heaviest spider.

There are relatively few records of this species from Scotland, but TWIC said conservationists had suggested that the spider was spreading northwards and was likely to be more widespread in Scotland than previously thought.

Zebra spiders do not build webs and instead stalk their prey before pouncing on them.

Image copyright Chris Cathrine
Image caption Zebra spiders do not build webs and instead creep up on their prey

These stripy creatures have a large front pair of eyes that provide "excellent binocular vision" to track moving prey. Their other six eyes can detect movement from the sides and rear.

Daddy long-legs spiders can be found in houses all year round.

Described as being unfussy eaters they will make a meal of almost anything that gets tangled in their webs, including larger house spiders.

Nurserywebs are a large UK species of spider.

The females build tent-like "nurseries" of dense silk for their eggs and guard these shelters once the spiderlings have hatched.

Image copyright Chris Cathrine
Image caption Nurseryweb spiders build tent-like dens to protect their young

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