While the arachnophobes of the UK might not be thrilled to hear this, scientists are “over the moon” about the Great Fox-Spider being spotted for the first time in over 25 years. The critically endangered spider was thought to be extinct, but wildlife experts are overjoyed to learn that this large spider is still around.
It took two years of late-night quests to finally track down the arachnid at a Ministry of Defence training base in Surrey. It was the first sighting of the spider since 1993! These spiders are pretty rare to spot and are know to be “remarkably elusive,” according to Mike Waite from the Surrey Wildlife Trust as they’re predominantly nocturnal.
According to Waite’s statement, the Great Fox Spider is quite the “impressive beast” and camouflages very well, which adds to its elusiveness, along with the fact that it is on the “very edge” of its normal range in the UK.
Feared extinct in UK, the Great Fox-Spider hadn’t been seen for 27 years. But Mike Waite, our #spider expert, never gave up hope of rediscovering one of UK’s largest spiders. He found it on @DefenceHQ @mod_dio training land in Surrey. Happy Halloween! https://t.co/C5u84p20I1 pic.twitter.com/UviRiSxHzW
— Surrey Wildlife Trust (@SurreyWT) October 31, 2020
Waite added that he was thrilled to be able to finally prove the spider’s continuing existence within the UK. He also shared that though he’s an arachnologist, he’s still pretty new and therefore he’s so excited that he could be the one to make “this important contribution to our scientific knowledge.”
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Waite was the one who spent his nights over the last two years tirelessly hunting the Great Fox Spider. Along the way, he also found some unidentified spiderlings, and this eventually led him to several males and one female Great Fox spider. They measured more than two inches in diameter – which is pretty big. Great Fox Spiders are known to not only have great camouflage, but they also have both impressive eyesight and speed. With all these natural gifts at their disposal, they are quite the threat in the insect world and have been known to be “opportunistic predators.” Now that we know they’re still around, it’s going to be interesting to hear what other things the experts are able to learn about them.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.