Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

One of UK’s biggest spiders thought to be extinct seen for first time since 1993

One of Britain’s biggest spiders has been found to still exist – despite assumptions it had disappeared forever.

A rare great fox-spider, a night-time hunter, was discovered on a Ministry of Defence training site in Surrey.

The two-inch-wide creature has wraparound vision because of its eight black eyes.

It was thought to be extinct as it had not been seen in the UK since 1993.

But Mike Waite, of Surrey Wildlife Trust, located the arachnid after spending two years searching for it on the military ground.

The spider eats using fang-bearing jaws and is known for its speed and agility.

Mike told the Guardian: "As soon as my torch fell on it I knew what it was. I was elated.

"With coronavirus, there have been lots of ups and downs this year, and I also turned 60, so it was a good celebration of that.

"It’s a gorgeous spider if you’re into that kind of thing."

He added: "It makes me think how hard have we looked for it on our coasts?

"Have we been looking hard enough?"

The creature chases after its prey – ants, beetles and smaller spiders – before leaping on them and injecting deadly venom.

  • Spiders are most likely to invade your home in these 10 UK cities

This stuns them and liquefies their internal organs.

But it poses no risks to humans.

TV presenter Nick Baker, president of the British Arachnological Society, said it was "the most exciting thing" to happen in wildlife circles for a while.

He added: "It’s about as handsome as a spider gets, it’s big and now it’s officially a member of the British fauna again."

Defence sites are said to be good for wildlife as they have plenty of space and limited human activity.

The MoD is not naming the site it was found on for security reasons.

Don’t miss the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards 2020, in partnership with TSB, on Sunday, 9pm, ITV.

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