Surrey is spider central

Surrey is spider central

© Mike Waite

Don’t tell me you’ve not seen any spiders lately, for it’s at this time of year they’re most visible.

You can’t help but admire the wheel-like webs of the orb-weavers, bejewelled with droplets of dew on an autumn morning. Bluish coloured silk webs around entrances to holes and crevices are the work of lace webbed spiders (also known as lace weavers). And as the temperature drops, male house spiders become more active as they search for mates. Don’t worry, they’re absolutely harmless!

But who knew that Surrey is a hotspot for spectacularly scary spiders? It’s perhaps not the best news for arachnophobes, but spiders are fascinating creatures.

Surrey is a really important county for spiders, with more than 400 species recorded – and we believe that some rare species of spider can now only be found here in the county.

Love them or hate them, spiders play a critical role in our ecosystems, as prey and predator. Surrey offers some of the best places for them to live and thrive. Heathlands such as Chobham Common are home to large numbers of different spiders – it’s recognised as nationally important for some species. Older grasslands and woodlands are also good hunting grounds for spider spotters.

Only a few species have common names, such as the indoors daddy long-legs and large house spiders, and outdoors the cross or plain garden spider. Another species often seen around houses is the wine-red woodlouse spider, which has exceptionally large jaws to penetrate the segmented armour of its chief prey, woodlice. The endearing jumping spiders are invariably tiny but have excellent all-round vision, matchless athleticism and may be found in both urban and natural habitats. The black-and-white striped zebra spider is perhaps the best known, while the striking bowed or gorilla jumper is locally found on damp heaths such as Whitmoor and Wisley Commons.

Here are the Trust’s top five spider species to spot in Surrey this November:

Wasp Spider

© Vaughn Matthews

Wasp Spider 

The female has a horrible habit of eating her mate! The spectacular wasp spider is one of our largest and most colourful species, which has become increasingly widespread in rough grasslands throughout the county. The female has a horrible habit of eating her mate!

Raft spider

© Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Raft Spider

A large striped spider that can walk on water, dive and even swim. It’ a voracious hunter and will eat tadpoles and even bite if handled.

Gorilla jumping spider

© Mike Waite

Gorilla Jumper

A scary-looking, hairy, black jumping spider, with all-round vision and found on damp heaths such as Whitmoor and Wisley Commons. Don’t be alarmed – it’s pretty small!

Wolf spider

© John Bridges

Wolf Spider

It hunts on the ground, chasing down its prey and leaping on it, just like a wolf. The female carries its young on her back after they’ve hatched.

Triangle spider

© Mike Waite

Triangle Spider 

This rare spider is named after its unusual triangular shaped web. Found in the Trust’s Wallis Wood reserve and on Box Hill.

We believe certain declining species of spider are now pretty much confined to Surrey - these include the lynx spider and certain types of sac spider and comb-footed spider. But there is still much to be learned about the distribution and status of spiders in Surrey and new sightings or records are always welcome.

So keep a look out for spiders and their wonderful webs this month. Or you could head out to one of Surrey Wildlife Trust’s reserves on an arachnid hunt – Chobham Common is a great place to start.