THE UK is home to an impressive 650 different species of spiders.
The largest – the cardinal spider – resides in nooks and crannies across Britain. So what do we know about this spider and does it bite?
Otherwise known as Tegenaria parietina, some of these spiders have been recorded to have a leg span of 12cm.
The name ‘cardinal’ was appropriated from a legend that dates back to the 14th century when Cardinal Wolsey was scared by the spider at Hampton Court.
Where do they live?
The spider is fairly rare in Europe, and is found more commonly in the south of England.
Most live in buildings or walls and like all spiders living in houses they can withstand very dry conditions and survive for months without sustenance.
Females can grow to a body length of up to 20 mm, and males up to 17 mm.
However, their legs are about three times longer in length.
The spiders are reddish brown in colour with more abundant hair on their tibias.
Females can live for up to eight years, while males die shortly after mating.
Female cardinal spiders have been known to consume the male spider after mating.
Do they bite?
All spiders can bite – that’s how most subdue and kill their prey – but only a small number have fangs that are strong enough to pierce human skin.
The cardinal spider is capable of biting, although bites have rarely been recorded.
The nip is believed to be completely harmless and painless to humans.
Symptoms have usually been described as just localised pain and swelling.
Of the 650 species of spider found in the UK only about 12 species have been recorded as being able to bite humans and these are larger spiders.
And of these, only 2 or 3 have been known to give a significant or unpleasant bite.
Spider bites are quite rare, so there is generally no cause for concern if you see spiders in your home.
In the rare event of more acute symptoms, medical advice should be taken.
What gives the spider a bad reputation is their large size, speed and nocturnal habits.
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