Spiders are arachno-fabulous this Halloween

Jasmine Granton

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Ladybird Spider Eresus sandaliatus, adult male on mossy heathland, Dorset

•It’s Halloween and the RSPB is encouraging people to put down the rolled up newspaper and give spiders a home

•Spiders are extremely effective pest controllers and eat bugs that feast on our crops and work as a natural pesticide

•Arachnophobia is a common phobia in the UK but the RSPB is reassuring people that the world would be a scarier place without them

Halloween is here, and experts at the RSPB say it’s the best time of year to see some of Britain’s coolest spiders. In every high street shop, windows are decorated with fake webs, but don’t be too quick to destroy the real ones in your home. It’s time to start embracing our eight-legged friends and think about their many benefits rather than running scared.

Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders, is a very common phobia in the UK. So why is the nation that is home to 650 species and an estimated 750 million individuals terrified of these web weaving, pest controlling, eight-legged creatures? 

Fears and phobias can develop in early childhood or be passed down as learned behaviour from adults. Despite people’s fears, the world would be a much scarier place without our eight-legged friends. Although no threat to us, the giant house spider, its smaller cousin the house spider, and the spider that you’d have seen hanging upside down in its web in the upper corner of your rooms; the daddy long-legs spider consume around 700,000 tonnes of invertebrates every year. They don’t just keep your house free of insects, they also eat bugs that feast on our crops and work as a natural pesticide. 

With this in mind, the RSPB is encouraging people to put down the rolled up newspaper this season and simply let the spiders be whilst encouraging your children to do the same. With spiders benefiting us in many ways, it’s important to teach children how great spiders and other creepy crawlies are.

Claire Thomas, RSPB wildlife expert says, “Spiders are amazing, fascinating to watch and as we approach winter their webs become awesome works of art when combined with the morning dew.

“They are also a great way for children to discover nature. So why not encourage your children to explore nature by moving logs and rocks to uncover a world of interesting crawlies. By learning about them at a young age you will not only spark your child’s curiosity, but you may also help them avoid developing a phobia.”

For families with children interested in finding out more about the world of spiders and other creatures, The RSPB’s Wild Challenge is free and offers all sorts of activities and fun for finding what is at the bottom of your garden. If you’re keen to spot some amazing spiders, then it’s worth visiting an RSPB reserve this autumn.

 The ladybird spider, known for its bright red and black markings on the mature males, is extremely rare but can be found on the RSPB’s Arne nature reserve after a reintroduction project in 2011. Its open heathland and old oak wood make Arne the perfect spider habitat, and is home to 240 species of spider making it a great place to go with the family.

Another fascinating spider found in the UK is the raft spider, which is one of the two largest spiders in the country. Raft spiders are semi-aquatic and live around acidic bogs and in wet grassland, especially where there are small pools of water. The rare spiders are now thriving on RSPB land close to Strumpshaw Fen in the Norfolk Broads.

Claire added “When thinking about the wonderful job spiders do, it seems a crying shame that so many people fear them instead of appreciating what a helpful and essential part they play in our ecosystem. Spiders really are one of the wonders of the natural world and are more afraid of you than you are of them. They might cause you to shudder, but the real nightmare would be a world without them”.


Find out more about the Wild Challenge and learn how you can help give nature a home.

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

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