Rare strawberry spider spotted at Meeth

Tuesday 26th September 2017

A rare strawberry spider has been spotted at Meeth Quarry reserve. Photo, Rob Wolton

A rare and remarkable looking spider has been discovered living at one of Devon Wildlife Trust's North Devon nature reserves.

The spider in question is the strawberry spider, a species which is classified as ‘nationally scarce’ by arachnid experts. The discovery is thought to be one of only a handful of sightings in Devon since it was discovered near Ivybridge in 2008.

The strawberry spider was found at Devon Wildlife Trust’s Meeth Quarry nature reserve, the first time it had been seen at the North Devon wildlife haven which is close to the town of Hatherleigh.

Like a plump strawberry!

Araneus alsine to give the strawberry spider its full scientific name, is a member of the orb-weaving family of spiders. The spider has a very distinctive red-orange body, flecked with yellow dots and looks remarkably like a plump, ripe strawberry. It’s also large for a British spider, with the bodies of females reaching up to 15mm in size.

The surprising eight-legged discovery was made by bug-hunting expert Rob Wolton while he was making a routine visit to Meeth Quarry nature reserve.

Surprise!

Rob said:
“I was out recording insects like hoverflies on the reserve, when I spotted this huge red spider unlike any I had ever seen before. I took some photos and when I got home looked it up. It was a real surprise to find such an eye-catching spider. It just goes to show what a special place Meeth Quarry is. Full of the unexpected.”

Meeth Quarry is one of 50 nature reserves cared for by the charity Devon Wildlife Trust. Until the 1990s it was an active clay mine producing clay for export. After being decommissioned its two huge clay pits stood unused for a more than a decade before Devon Wildlife Trust took over its ownership in 2013.

On the trail with eight legs

Today the nature reserve is visited by thousands of people each year, many arriving on the Tarka Trail cycle way which runs through the site. Its 150 hectares are free for people to explore and enjoy. A newly installed wildlife hide makes a popular destination for birdwatchers while insect experts have identified one of southern England’s largest colonies of the rare wood white butterfly living on the reserve. Now a rare spider, the strawberry spider, can be added to the growing list of Meeth Quarry’s known inhabitants.

Play your part in supporting our for local wildlife work at Meeth Quarry and all our other 49 nature reserves now!

Tagged with: Species, Devon, Discovery, Meeth, Nature reserve, Rob Wolton, Strawberry spider