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Four million hairy legs per person

Last modified: 27 October 2012

Cobweb Ben Andrew

Image: Ben Andrew

This is the best season for seeing some of Britain’s biggest spiders, says the RSPB.

Most of our large orb weavers like the garden spider become adult in late summer so are at their biggest right now, with larger and more obvious webs.  With Hallowe’en on the way it couldn’t be a better time to get out in gardens or parks to see them. 

It’s estimated that there are more than half a million spiders for every person in Britain - that’s four million hairy legs for each of us - and warmer, drier parts of the country like the south east of England have a larger proportion of the biggest spiders.

RSPB spider expert Ian Dawson says; ‘As a general rule of thumb, the parts of Britain that have a drier and warmer climate are more favourable for bigger spiders, but there are more than 650 species of spider in Britain and they vary considerably in size. 

‘Spiders are one of the few kinds of wildlife that we can get close to without even stepping outside, in fact an average-sized house probably supports around 100 spiders at any one time.  They are wonderfully efficient predators - between them British spiders eat around 700,000 tonnes of invertebrates every year, which is a colossal amount of food.  They’re definitely to be encouraged and admired rather than feared’

This week has been particularly good for web spotting, as the foggy, misty weather in many parts of the country has left water droplets on webs, making them more visible.

Spiders are among the creatures that will feature in family-friendly events at RSPB nature reserves across the UK this half term as part of Hallowe’en activities.  The RSPB is looking to inspire young people and help to tackle the growing problem of children’s disconnection to nature.  It is asking families to find out just how connected to nature they are by taking part in a survey at www.rspb.org.uk/getoutdoors  

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