Rare English spider discovery

Midia midas

From Wildlife Extra:

One of the UK’s rarest spiders discovered in Hainault Forest for first time in 32 years

July 2012. Staff from the British Arachnological Society have discovered one the UK’s rarest spiders, the Midas tree-weaver (Midia midas) at the Woodland Trust’s Hainault Forest in Essex. A female specimen was found in one of 20 traps which were placed amongst the 6,000 hornbeam pollards found in the ancient woodland.

Nationally endangered

A money spider, associated with ancient trees, the Midas tree-weaver is listed as nationally endangered and is identified as a Priority Species for conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP). In the UK, the spider has only ever been recorded in five locations, one of which is Hainault Forest – but the last known recording of the spider on site was over 30 years ago.

Geoff Sinclair, Woodland Trust Site Manager, said: “Ancient woodland is one of the most precious habitats we have and the fact that a Midas tree-weaver has been recorded in Hainault Forest highlights the importance of ancient trees and woods as a wildlife habitat. We must do all we can to protect them to ensure the survival of such creatures.”

The surveying was carried out by sorting litter, birds nests and squirrel dreys from ancient trees and placing aerial pitfall traps in the crowns of trees.

Tony Russell-Smith from the British Arachnological Society added: “Despite the heavy rainfall in May and June which flooded many traps, the fact that we have found the tree-weaver again is a great result and confirms its continuing survival at this site, the only one so far recorded in the whole of the UK this year.”

The work forms part of a wider survey to establish the distribution and status of Midia midas in different regions of Britain. It is hoped to use the information obtained to clarify the need for future conservation work for this species and to help define the scope of such work.

The midas tree weaver, Midia midas is one of Britain’s rarest spiders. It is equally rare throughout its range in Western Europe, where it has been recorded from Denmark, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Spain, either from single or a very few individuals. In the UK, it has been recorded from just five localities, Sherwood Forest, Notts. (Crocker, 1979), Donington Park, Leics. (Crocker & Daws, 1996), Epping Forest, Essex (Russell-Smith, 2002), Hainault Forest (Essex) and Windsor Forest (Berks), where it is always associated with ancient trees, either in forest or ancient wood pasture settings. The reasons for its close association with ancient trees are still unclear but its extreme rarity almost certainly results from both habitat loss and decline in woodland management practices such as pollarding.

12 thoughts on “Rare English spider discovery

    • I am not sure if this about climate change. Arguments against that are that the spider species had been recorded there 30 years ago; and that it occurs in Poland and Denmark, not really hot countries.


        • You are forgiven πŸ™‚ Many other people, including me, sometimes do that in their lunch breaks as well πŸ™‚

          Maybe, if you will find out more, there are also pro-climate change theory arguments in this case.


          • I’ll be sure to let you know if I hear anything. As it happens I wasn’t asking for forgiveness! The tossing around of hypotheses is such fun and it’s why we need our lunch breaks. I don’t recall whether you’re a scientist but if you are, don’t you find that the best work gets done over sandwiches in the coffee room?


  1. Pingback: A species not seen for decades has been seen again | Science on the Land

  2. Hi, I am a scientist; but as a biologist, I am only an amateur πŸ™‚

    It is true that one often gets the best ideas at very unexpected moments, eg, also while in bed and unable to sleep yet πŸ™‚


    • Yes indeed. Or when first awake in the early morning. I call it the mushroom shift because that’s when my best ideas sprout fron the ground. My body’s changed in recent years, in a bad way (multiple sclerosis) so that mornings now aren’t a time for much physical movement. But I’m still the morning person I always was. I’m currently exploiting that to write WP posts before breakfast.

      The science you blog about often does seem like biology. Perhaps you’re really a physicist or something, I suppose.


      • I doubted very much whether I should study biology or a social science. As I was not good in biochemistry, an important part of biology, I finally decided for the second alternative πŸ™‚


        • Each to their own. Recently I was interviewed by a social scientist conducting research and she mentioned how she loves qualitative data. As you know, I’m a quantitative scientist. This lady and I agree that neither or us envies the other!


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