A Great Fox spider feared extinct has been spotted for first time in 20 years at UK MoD training area in Surrey.
THE spider, one of Britain’s most endangered species, had previously only ever been found at three locations, in Dorset and Surrey, and has not been since the early 90s.
The discovery was made by spider enthusiast Mike Waite of Surrey Wildlife Trust, who said he was “over the moon” with the find.
Great Fox-Spiders are ground-dwelling and largely nocturnal but Mike said he 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 5cm or just over two inches in diameter including its hairy, spiny legs.
Mike Waite, Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “The Great Fox-Spider has not been seen since 1993 and was feared to be extinct. The spider is at the very edge of its range in the UK, which accounts for its super rarity here.
“This formidable-looking creature is an impressive beast, perfectly camouflaged and also largely nocturnal, and for all its size it has been remarkably elusive.
He added: “I am naturally over-the-moon to have finally proved the continued existence of the Great Fox-Spider in the UK. Although I’ve always held a latent interest in spiders, as a bonafide arachnologist, I am still a relative newbie, so am doubly pleased to have made this important contribution to our scientific knowledge.”
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