Surrey Wildlife Trust has rediscovered one of the largest and most endangered British spiders on a Ministry of Defence (MOD) training area in Surrey, after more than 20 years without a UK sighting.
The Great Fox-Spider is Red-listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ and was feared to no longer exist in the UK as it had only ever been found at three sites, two in Dorset and the other in Surrey, but hadn’t been seen since 1999.
Great Fox-Spiders are ground dwelling and largely nocturnal but Mike Waite, spider enthusiast at Surrey Wildlife Trust, had never given up hope that he might find the monster spider. He spent many hours of late night searching with a torch over the last two years. Finally he discovered some unidentifiable immature spiderlings, on MOD land managed by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, and then, at last several mature males and one female Great Fox-Spider, which was 55mm or just over two inches in diameter including its hairy, spiny legs.