There are more than 650 species of spiders ranging from small money spiders to large house spiders. However, spiders are generally overlooked or, even worse, feared by many people in the UK. The latter is especially irrational as only about 12 of our native species of spiders can inflict a painful, but not dangerous, bite. Rather than being feared, spiders should be admired for their ability to thrive in a large range of habitats, for their impressive engineering skills while building their geometrically complex webs and because they do us as significant service by eating a large number of nuisance and pest insects both outside and inside our houses.
Come along and learn more about these fascinating animals from two local spider experts with Lawrence having decades of practical experience on surveying and identifying spiders as well as being the author of a field guide to British spiders, and Thomas having researched the ecology and behaviour of web-building spiders in both tropical and temperate habitats for more than 10 years.
We will spend the morning in the classroom learning about the natural history of spiders in our local nature reserves, parks and gardens, and how to visually identify the most common spiders in the field. This will be followed by an overview of the function and construction of the intricate and beautiful webs that many spiders build as well as a guide on how their webs can be used to identify the spiders to families and sometimes to species in the wild.
In the afternoon we will take our newly gained knowledge outside and walk to the Trap Grounds and Port Meadow along the canal identifying and talking about the spiders we encounter. At our destination, we will learn how we can sample habitats for spiders in a more systematic way as well as practicing collecting, identification and field measurements of spiders and their webs.