Spider Identification (UK)

Spider Identification (UK)

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I found this spider (~10 mm body length) indoors on a wall (South-East England) and I was wondering what species it was.

My first guess is false black widow, but I can't be sure.

I'd be grateful if anyone could help me out.

Yes, it's Steatoda, probably nobilis, the False Widow. The white band curving around the front of the abdomen is a good Steatoda diagnostic, and the light-colored abdominal pattern is pretty variable in this species - only hints of it here, but the pointy front end and the bits of a skeletal 'shield' pattern are there. The spider is pretty harmless, although it is supposed to sometimes give a bite that's like a very mild Widow bite. Not at all dangerous, but a little more potent than the usual harmless spider bite.

Below are a couple of pictures of nobilis, showing a range of markings:

Here is a citation describing the effects of S. nobilis bites that's not a fear-mongering tabloid story:

The images were taken from a random survey of Steatoda nobilis images from the internet, as a broad selection was desired. However, this note (below) discusses some of the features I mention, along with photographs that support my comments.

Populations of UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted since 1970

Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date.

The State of Nature report also found that the area inhabited by officially designated “priority species” has shrunk by 27%. The species are those deemed most important and threatened, and include hedgehogs, hares and bats, many birds such as the willow tit and the turtle dove, and insects such as the high brown fritillary butterfly.

The report finds the losses to all animals, plants and marine life show no sign of letting up, despite some successes in protecting individual species. It found that 41% of species have decreased in abundance, while just 26% have increased.

A quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of the birds assessed are at risk of extinction, according to the report, which was produced by a coalition of more than 70 wildlife organisations and government conservation agencies. When plants, insects and fungi are added, one in seven of the 8,400 UK species assessed are at risk of being completely lost, with 133 already gone since 1500.

A rare sighting of a willow tit in England. Photograph: FLPA/Alamy

The causes of the losses are the intensification of farming, pollution from fertiliser, manure and plastic, the destruction of habitats for houses, the climate crisis and invasive alien species. The State of Nature report shows no significant improvement since the last one in 2016, which said the UK was “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”.

The losses mirror the global annihilation of wildlife, which scientists suggest is the start of the sixth mass extinction on Earth and is undermining the natural life-support systems that humanity relies on for air, water and food.

“We know more about the UK’s wildlife than any other country on the planet, and what it is telling us should make us sit up and listen,” said Daniel Hayhow of the RSPB, the lead author of the report. “We need to respond more urgently across the board.”

Sophie Pavelle, a young conservationist who contributed to the report’s foreword, said: “I have felt the loss of nature more acutely this year than any other. A dawn chorus less deafening hedgerows less frantic bizarre, worrying weather. It seems that in a more complex world, nature is tired, muted and confused.”

Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth said: “As we lose nature, we lose a huge part of what makes us happy and healthy. UK ministers and businesses persist in planning and funding disastrous projects and practices, often with public money.” Repeated declarations by the government to halt and reverse the decline of nature have not been followed by matching action, he said.

“We recognise that the continuing declines in biodiversity require urgent action from across society,” said Marcus Yeo, the chief executive of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, the UK’s official conservation advisers. Government funding for wildlife and nature has fallen by 42% since 2009, while an official report in March concluded the UK will miss almost all its 2020 nature targets.

In addition to the 214 priority species analysed in the report, a broader examination of almost 600 species also found a drop in population of 13% since 1970. But the report states: “Prior to 1970, the UK’s wildlife had already been depleted by centuries of persecution, pollution, habitat loss and degradation.”

A lone tree on agricultural land in Warwickshire. Photograph: Bill Allsopp/Alamy

The report uses assessments from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list to assess the number of UK species at risk of extinction. As well as mammals and birds, it found 440 plants, 405 invertebrates and 232 fungi and lichen in danger

The mammals most at risk are the Scottish wildcat and the once-widespread black rat, but hedgehogs, rabbits and water voles are also falling in numbers. “I have never seen a hedgehog, although my parents used to see them all the time in this area,” said James Miller, another young conservationist featured in the report.

The destruction of nature extends offshore, the report found. The seafloor was scoured or disturbed by fishing gear in more than half of all UK waters between 2010 and 2015, while half of all commercial fisheries are overexploited. Plastic pollution is rising too, with 93% of beached northern fulmar seabirds having eaten plastic, and the average number of particles swallowed has tripled since the 1980s.

“But it is not all gloom and doom,” said Gary Powney, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, a contributor to the report. “There are inspirational conservation success stories, where people have come together to protect and restore wildlife.”

Fish swim alongside litter in the Wye river, Derbyshire. Photograph: Jack Perks/Greenpeace

The fen raft spider was threatened with extinction in the UK, he said, but the Wildlife Trusts worked with the EU to fund habitat restoration and the species was increasing. Other successes include the saving of corncrakes and bitterns, the large blue butterfly and the return of otters to less polluted waters.

The report uses many millions of data records from tens of thousands of expert volunteers. “We need even more people to get involved and record the biodiversity around them, so we can monitor the health of our countryside,” said Powney.

“We are in the midst of a nature and climate emergency right here at home,” said Mark Wright of WWF. “The new [post-Brexit] environment bill must be world-leading with bold legal targets and a strong watchdog that holds the government accountable for halting the losses.”

Rosie Hails of the National Trust said: “It’s not just government that needs to act we can also all do our own bit, including nature-friendly planting in our backyards.”

Insect Declines in the Anthropocene

David L. Wagner
Vol. 65, 2020


Insect declines are being reported worldwide for flying, ground, and aquatic lineages. Most reports come from western and northern Europe, where the insect fauna is well-studied and there are considerable demographic data for many taxonomically disparate . Read More

Figure 1: Location of 73 insect decline reports by taxon or group, adapted from Sánchez-Bayo & Wyckhuys (156). Each square represents a single study, with the base of each stacked bar positioned over .

Figure 2: Population trends for insects tracked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and UK insects from Dirzo et al. (34). (a) Trend data for IUCN-listed Coleoptera (Col), Hym.

Figure 3: Reversal of fortunes. An important aspect of recent decline reports is evidence of steep population declines in formerly abundant species. (a) The Rocky Mountain locust (Melanoplus spretus)—.

Spider Identification (UK) - Biology

Critter Files/Spiders

Spiders belong to the the scientific class Arachnida, which also includes Scorpions, Mites and Ticks, and Daddy-Long-Legs. These are known as "arachnids," and they all have 8 legs, 2 body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), and no antennae. Arachnids also have fang-like mouthparts called "chelicerae" which insects do not have. Insects and arachnids both belong to the same Phylum (Arthropoda), but insects are not arachnids, and arachnids are not insects.

Spiders can be distinguished from other arachnids in Kentucky by the connection between the abdomen and the cephalothorax. In spiders, the connection between the cephalothorax and the abdomen is a narrow stalk. In other Kentucky arachnids, the connection between the two body regions is broad, so that the distinction between the cephalothorax and abdomen is not obvious.

There are many different kinds of spiders in Kentucky. Click on the pictures above to learn more about how to identify specific kinds of spiders, or visit the Spider Anatomy section (below) to learn about spider body parts.

To learn about spider body parts, visit our interactive Spider Anatomy page.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy R. Bessin and B. Newton, University of Kentucky Department of Entomology
The Kentucky Critter Files are maintained by Blake Newton, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky.

  • Multi-taxa functional diversity in UK commercial forest plantations. PhD project 2016-2019. MRes Project 2017-2019. . PhD Project. 2013-2017 . Postdoctoral project 2017-2018. . MRes project 2015-2017.

In 2014 Anne completed a PGCE in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education with Distinction and became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is programme leader for the MSc Conservation Management and Coordinator of the MRes Science programme. She teaches on a range of programmes across academic levels:

  • Ecology SCI1112 (Module Lead)
  • Biology in Practice SCI1107
  • Research Methods in Biology SCI2308
  • Invertebrate Ecology SCI2317 (Module Lead)
  • Invertebrate Ecology SCI3318 (Module Lead)
  • Marine Biology SCI2327
  • Dissertation SCI3330/SCI3333
  • Biodiversity and Conservation SCI3309
  • Current Issues in Biology SCI3314 (Module Lead)
  • Ecological Interactions SCI3325 (Module Lead)

MSc Conservation Management:

  • MSc Research Project MCM4001 (Module Lead)
  • MSc Conservation Placement MCM4006 (Module Lead)
  • Vertebrate Monitoring and Management MCM4008 (Module Lead)
  • Invertebrate Ecology MCM4013 (Module Lead)
  • Research practice in the Sciences
  • Research design and implementation
  • Engaging with wider impact

Volat-Araneus &mdash The Flying Spider

Claim: Photograph shows the killer Volat-Araneus “flying spider” due to migrate to the UK this year.

Example: [Collected via e-mail, March 2014]

Humans aren’t the only species that like the hot weather. Top Scientists and Professors from Albion University believe that Volat-Araneus (the Flying Spider) will, without a doubt, migrate to the UK this year. Due to the coming hot weather, and an abundance of this spiders favourite food, The False Widow!

Chances are you probably know that name. It’s the killer spider which was all over last year’s headlines, and this new-found species literally eats them for breakfast. The great benefit here is that the Volat-Araneus may reduce the False Widow population. Although this species is carnivorous it is not poisonous. The worst reported case of attack from the Volat-Araneus, comes from The fictional Republic of Kamistan (IRK) where old boy Omar Hassan found a that a female had planted her eggs in his elbow. After only of surgery Hassan was cleared of the insects and was left with nothing greater than a half the size of the spider that caused the injury.

Origins: On 10 March 2014, the UK computer service web site Digital Plumbing published an article positing that, as reproduced above, UK residents should be on the lookout for an arachnid known as Volat-Araneus, a flying “killer spider” that would soon be migrating to the UK.

Those viewers who actually saw the original “Volat-Araneus” article (rather than excerpts forwarded by others) and read it in its entirety would have noted that the article itself stated about halfway through that everything about the “flying spider” story was false and explained the site’s reasons for publishing this bit of fiction:

We needed to get your attention because we want to help you, we are a company offering technology repairs and other services. Some of the most common issues we encounter are “Slow PC’s”, you’re probably familiar with this yourself. No matter what we do to resolve the issue, it can come back within a few weeks or even sooner. People always ask us,

how does this stuff get on my PC in the first place? The answer has never been simple to explain, so we figured we’ll just show you.

It’s by clicking links like this. We have used the image of a flying spider and words like Top Scientists to get your attention. We used a graph so that when you skim the article it looks a little more legit, we even have a quote from a professor!, Actually she’s an actress who plays Rebecca ‘Newt’ Jordan in the film Aliens.

If you have read this far, please ask yourself, did you notice that the fictional Republic of Kamistan, has the word Fictional in the title? “Volat” and “Araneus” are just words that someone on Yahoo answers say meant Flying and Spider, We just made the word up. There are numerous other made up details in the article, like the fact that Spiders aren’t insects.

Some people do notice but most don’t because their mind is focused on gathering more information about this flying spider threat, specifically, “Is it going to get me?!” That answer is simple, no. It’s not real.

In this case clicking the link, simply brought you to our website. But in most cases, especially videos, the first page you go to says, “click this button” to view your video. Clicking it won’t let you view a video or get the information it promises because it’s not real. What it will do however is share that video to all your friends as if you shared it. They’ll then click it and the cycle continues. In some cases it may ask you to install something you don’t have to watch the video. Something like flash, which you’ve heard of so it must be OK right? we’re sorry to say, wrong.

These will likely install malicious software on your PC, which can change your search engine, flood your PC with or even steal your personal data. And before you know it, you’ll need to call us to speed it up again. We want to help you stop it happening in the first place with a couple of simple tips.

The picture of the “winged spider” that accompanies the article is actually a repurposed hoax image that first circulated in 2012, a photograph of an otherwise unremarkable fishing spider from the Carolina Nature web site, onto which someone digitally grafted wings and then superimposed the results into a faux newspaper clipping captioned “Scientist discovers winged spider.”

Spider Identification (UK) - Biology


Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus), photo by Sean McCann

Robb Bennett
Research Associate, Royal British Columbia Museum

&ldquo . . . spiders are ruthless storm troops in the matriarchal anarchy that is the arthropod world: theirs is the most diverse, female-dominated, entirely predatory order on the face of the earth. As such, spiders are key components of all ecosystems in which they live.&rdquo (Bennett 1999).

To date, there are 893 spider species confirmed from British Columbia--the total spider fauna of the province is estimated to be more than 1000 species (Bennett et al. 2020). Click here to read about the spiders of British Columbia (2001 PDF posted with permission of the Entomological Society of British Columbia). Or read this 2019 review of Canadian spider diversity and systematics (PDF posted with permission of the Biological Survey of Canada).

To learn more about the Royal British Columbia Museum's spider surveys and research see Molly Segal&rsquos Quirks and Quarks report on the RBCM's spider researchers as well there is an earlier CBC interview with the RBCM's spider researchers and coverage in the Revelstoke Current and the Nelson Daily.

Read our note on the mating sequence of the familiar crab spider (Misumena vatia). You will need to scroll down to page 144 [page 46 in the PDF] to view the article.

Grass Spider (Agelenopsis sp.) female with egg case, photo by Diane Williamson

Spider bites are often misdiagnosed. Read the article in Canadian Family Physician by Robb Bennett and Rick Vetter on the misdiagnoses of spider bites in Canada. Read the Royal Alberta Museum page on medically significant spiders, prepared by Terry Thormin. For excellent information regarding those "mystery bites and itches" that are commonly mistaken for spider bites, see:

Some notes about spiders that are of real or imaginary medical interest:

1) Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa):

There are no brown recluse spiders in BC or in Canada. Their range is limited to the south-central and mid-western US. Click here for a general account about the brown recluse spider, where it occurs, and how to identify it. For a more detailed account of the biology of brown recluse and related spiders in North America (including medical information), read this article published in The Journal of Arachnology by well-known brown recluse spider specialist Rick Vetter.

2) Western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus):

There are five species of black widow spiders in North America, north of Mexico. The species found in British Columbia is the western black widow spider. This species of cobweb spider, or comb-footed spider, is found from southern Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia south into Mexico. In British Columbia, it is widespread in southern BC. The look-alike false black widow spider (Steatoda grossa) is widespread throughout the province. It may be mistaken for the black widow, but lacks the red hour-glass on its abdomen. " In coastal British Columbia, L. hesperus naturally co-occurs with two species of European house spiders: the giant house spider, Eratigena atrica (formerly known as Tegenaria duellica ) and the hobo spider, Eratigena agrestis (formerly known as Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Both Eratigena species were introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century, rapidly spread and have now become invasive" (Salomon 2007).

Click here to read more about the western black widow spider

3) Hobo spider ( Eratigena agrestis ):

This introduced species of funnel-web weaver is widespread across southern BC and is mostly synanthropic (found close to human habitation), but also occurs in natural habitats in south-western and south-central BC. Populations of hobo spider are very localized, and it co-occurs with the western black widow spider (Salomon 2007). Note that no verified case of hobo spider envenomation exists. In Canada, hobo spiders are common only in southern British Columbia , although they have also been found in some cities in Alberta, Ontario and Newfoundland.

Read more about the distribution of the hobo spider in the US and Canada, by Vetter et al.(PDF). Posted with permission.

How to keep spiders out of your house

As the nights draw in and the heating gets turned up, spiders make their way back into our homes. With False Widows and giant house spiders cropping up around the UK, here are the best (and most outlandish) ways to keep your home spider free.


A popular old wives tale says that chestnuts can be placed around the home to deter spiders. Some claim they hate the smell, others claim they keel over in the presence of a walnut. There’s no real evidence to support this though, so use either as a last resort or for a good old playground game.

Where there are insects, there are spiders

As the evenings grow darker, it can be tempting to leave outside lights on which serve as a beacon to the insects in the area. The spiders aren’t attracted to the light, but will follow the insects. If windows are left open with the lights on, expect a lot of spiders to be following those moths.

Essential Oils and Vinegar Sprays

Eucalyptus, tea-tree or even peppermint oils might keep the spiders out. While some might enjoy the smell, the spiders do not. Spray around windows and doors. A similar option is vinegar. With an infinite amount of uses around the house, one of them had to be deterring spiders. Side effects may include deterring friends and family from your extremely fragrant home. Check out a good oil spray recipe here.

Get a Pet

Preferably a cat. Cats have been used as hunters since humans first began to interact with them, and even the most docile tabby cat will still follow his instincts. While they aren’t going to eliminate the entire spider problem, they’ll catch anything they see sprinting across the living room floor. Use caution if there are poisonous spiders in the house like the False Widow, as they can hurt animals too.


Your recently adopted cat will hate this too, but lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit smell terrible to the average spider. The peels work perfectly, so just save them whenever enjoying a healthy piece of fruit. They do need to be replaced every few days as they dry out and lose their potency.

Cedar and Tobacco

With a convenient source of cedar or the money to afford to sprinkle tobacco around the home, these may also repel spiders. Cedar wood will work, so hangars may work in wardrobes. Investing in cedar furniture is only for the serious arachnophobe.

Keeping your home clean

Perhaps the most boring method and the most effective. Spiders love to hide in dark and neglected places, and any leftover food will attract insects that will in turn attract more spiders. Vacuuming or dusting away cobwebs and egg sacs will make spiders less eager to return. Removing plant matter and debris from around your house will also work as a preventative measure as there will be fewer spiders to move inside.

'Veggie' spider shuns meat diet

It is the first-known predominantly vegetarian spider all of the other known 40,000 spider species are thought to be mainly carnivorous.

Bagheera kiplingi, which is found in Central America and Mexico, bucks the meat-eating trend by feasting on acacia plants.

The research is published in the journal Current Biology.

The herbivorous spider was filmed on high-definition camera.

The jumping arachnid, which is 5-6mm long, has developed a taste for the tips of the acacia plants - known as Beltian bodies - which are packed full of protein.

But to reach this leafy fare, the spider has to evade the attention of ants, which live in the hollow spines of the tree.

The ants and acacia trees have co-evolved to form a mutually beneficial relationship: the aggressive ants protect the trees from predators, swarming to attack any invaders and in return for acting as bodyguards, the ants get to gorge on the acacias' Beltian bodies themselves.

But the crafty Bagheera kiplingi has found a way to exploit this symbiotic relationship.

One of the study's authors, Professor Robert Curry, from Villanova University, Pennsylvania, told BBC News: "The spiders basically dodge the ants.

"The spiders live on the plants - but way out on the tips of the old leaves, where the ants don't spend a lot of time, because there isn't any food on those leaves."

But when they get hungry, the spiders head to the newer leaves, and get ready to run the ant gauntlet.

Professor Curry said: "And they wait for an opening - they watch the ants move around, and they watch to see that there are not any ants in the local area that they are going after.

"And then they zip in and grab one of these Beltian bodies and then clip it off, hold it in their mouths and run away.

"And then they retreat to one of the undefended parts of the plant to eat it."

Like other species of jumping spider, Bagheera kiplingi has keen eyesight, is especially fast and agile and is thought to have good cognitive skills, which allows it to "hunt" down this plant food.

The spider's herbivorous diet was first discovered in Costa Rica in 2001 by Eric Olsen from Brandeis University, and was then independently observed again in 2007 by Christopher Meehan, at that time an undergraduate student at Villanova University.

The team then collaborated to describe the spider for the first time in this Current Biology paper.

Professor Curry said he was extremely surprised when he found out about its unusual behaviour.

He said: "This is the only spider we know that deliberately only goes after plants."

While some spiders will occasionally supplement their diet with a little nectar or pollen, Bagheera kiplingi's diet is almost completely vegetarian - although occasionally topped up with a little ant larvae at times.

Professor Curry said there were numerous reasons why this spider might have turned away from meaty meals.

He said: "Competition in the tropics is pretty fierce so there are always advantages to doing what someone else isn't already doing.

"They are jumping spiders, so they don't build a web to catch food, so they have to catch their prey through pursuit. And the Beltian bodies are not moving - they are stuck - so it is a very predictable food supply."

Acacias also produce leaves throughout the year - even through the dry season - which would make them attractive.

And Professor Curry added: "Because the plants are protected by ants, they have none of their own chemical defences that other plants do."

Garden spiders use electrostatic charged silk to catch unsuspecting prey

Most spiders weave sticky, wet webs to trap their prey, but the feather-legged lace weaver spider, Uloborus plumipes, employs a totally “high-tech” strategy. It spins an extremely thin nano-sized web, which becomes charge with electrostatic energy. Just like dust latches on to your sweater, insects are attracted and stuck to the the web. Biologists believe they’ve figured out how the spider does all of this in a newly reported paper which might help the industry design and develop ultra-strong nano filaments in the future.

An electrostatic web

Uloborus plumipes is a species of Old World cribellate spider in the family Uloboridae. Common names include the feather-legged lace weaver and the garden centre spider, the latter name being due to its frequent occurrence of this spider in garden centres on the world. Image: Snip View

The UK researchers collected adult female lace weavers from garden centers in the UK and carefully recorded them spin their web using high resolution cameras. In addition, various microscopy technique were used to study the spiders’ internal weaving organs. The cribellum, particularly stood out. This ancient spinning organ is not found in many spiders. It consiss of one or two plates densely covered in tiny silk outlet nozzles, and standing at 60 micrometers it is among the smallest silk glands ever observed

First, the silk emerges as a gooey liquid from the cribellum gland, unlike other spiders which eject their silk intact. As the spider pulls on the silk, it sets into a solid thread, but the kicker is that thousands of tiny fillaments are actively combed out by the spider using hairs on its hind legs. Just like plastic comb charges hair, so do the legs charge the web. The electrostatic fibers are thought to attract prey to the web in the same way a towel pulled from the dryer is able to attract stray socks.

“Studying this spider is giving us valuable insights into how it creates nano-scale filaments,” said Fritz Vollrath, co-author of the new study. “If we could reproduce its neat trick of electro-spinning nano-fibers we could pave the wave for a highly versatile and efficient new kind of polymer processing technology.”


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