A RARE spider that was declared extinct more than 50 years ago has been found in a UK park.
The arachnid – known as a diamond spider because of the shape of the markings on its back – was found by National Trust volunteers at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.
What is a diamond spider?
The arachnid is usually brown in colour and its habitat includes boggy areas with moss, purple moor grass and heather. Its English name derives from the thin black diamond on its back.
It has only been recorded in the UK on three occasions, all of them in the South of England, and not since the 1960s. It is so rare that it took experts six weeks to identify it.
The last recorded sightings of the Diamond Spider occurred in Legsheath and Duddleswell, in Ashdown Forest, in 1969, according to the Spider and Harvestman Recording Scheme.
The species has been recorded at Beaulieu Heath near Brockenhurst, New Forest, South Hampshire in 1894 and Legsheath and Duddleswell, in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, in the 20th century. Adults were found at Legsheath in the 1930s and juveniles at both Sussex sites in 1969.
The species is widespread in western and central Europe.
Do diamond spiders bite?
It is a species of Philodromidae, a family of spiders commonly known as philodromid crab spiders. Philodromids lead an active predatory lifestyle on plant stems and leaves and inject their prey with venom. However, they are not considered harmful to humans.
How big are they?
Males typically range from 5.2-7.4mm and females 6.9 to 12mm.
Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of Buglife said:”We are absolutely delighted that this pretty little spider has been re-found, we had almost given up hope.”
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Are they no longer extinct in the UK?
It appears not, and that the species has simply not been seen by spider enthusiasts.
Finder Lucy Stockton said: “The spider ran away from me twice but with persistence and some luck I caught it,” Nottingham Post reported.
“At the time I had no idea that it would turn out to be such a rare find.
“Upon closer inspection our spider had a conspicuous ‘cardiac mark’, a black diamond shape on its abdomen, edged with white that helped us to identify it.
“We were thrilled to have discovered this new resident of Clumber Park and to prove that this species is definitely not extinct in the UK.”