Perfect weather for spiders

Advertisment
  • Photo of a giant house spider (Tegenaria species). Photo: Sally Webb (MeteoGroup UK)

    Photo of a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus) on his web. Photo: Nick Ansell (PA Archive)

    Photo of a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus) on his web. Photo: Anthony Devlin (PA Archive)

    Photo of a frozen spider's web. Photo: Andrew Milligan (PA Archive)

  • Perfect weather for spiders
    25.10.2014 10:03

     

    Spiders are often associated with Halloween as many people are scared of them, but this year there seems to be more spiders than normal and they seem to be bigger! At the beginning of October, Professor Adam Hart, from the University of Gloucestershire, was recorded saying that “a good spider season” was expected this autumn and those spiders could be up 2-3mm bigger. To find out why, we spoke to Dr Geoff Oxford from the British Arachnological Society and University of York. 

    Dr Oxford explained that it is normal to see more large spiders (Tegenaria species) in autumn than any other time of year, because the males mature in mid-to-late summer, abandon their webs or crawl out of their holes and then go looking for a mate. It is during this search that we often see them crawling along our walls, running across our carpets or stuck in the bath. However, as suggested by Professor Hart, this year, these spiders have the potential to be 2-3mm bigger than normal, because the warm summer and mild autumn has led to there being more prey available than usual. Insects thrive in the warm conditions and this is what spiders feed on.

    There are several species of garden spider that are also at their largest during autumn. The most common, is the Cross spider (Araneus diadematus) which mates during the late summer and then feeds during the autumn months. This means that the female spiders are bigger during the autumn months as they are carrying eggs, but as mentioned, this year they are even larger because of the abundance of insects. Dr Oxford added that “There do seem to have been high numbers of Garden Cross spiders about this year but we don't have any quantitative data to support this notion.”

    Another reason we notice spiders more in the autumn months than any other time of year is because the female Cross spiders produce lots of orb webs around this time of year. These then become very visible to the human eye in rain, mist and on frosty days as the water condenses or freezes onto the webs.

    For those of you who are scared of spiders, you’ll be happy to know that the female spiders will die over the next couple of months as we move into winter and it becomes colder. However, the eggs, laid in silk-covered egg sacks, will emerge as new spiders next spring.

    By: Sally Webb