What is a Ladybird Spider?
This is one of our most spectacular spiders, but also one of our most endangered, and it is at risk of extinction in the UK.
This colourful creature lives on lowland heathland, building vertical, silk-lined burrows, crowned with a silk canopy which they use to ambush the insects they feed on. Females and immature males are mostly black; the males develop that glorious red abdomen with black spots once they are ready to breed.
Why are they in trouble?
The Ladybird Spider depends on lowland heathland, but so much of this habitat has been lost over the last century, for forestry, farmland or built on. For over 70 years, the spider was thought to be extinct in Britain, until a few were discovered at a single site in Dorset in 1980. Conservation work means there are now 14 populations and nearly 1,000 individuals, but it is still very vulnerable.
How we will help the Ladybird Spider
This Back from the Brink project, led by Buglife, will care for the populations in Dorset and establish at least six more. This will involve collecting and caring for spiders over winter, ready to release them onto new sites in the spring. We will monitor all populations and assess new sites carefully. We will maintain the best habitat conditions for the spiders at all of its sites, and create more suitable habitat, to allow the populations to expand and spread naturally. We also want to help the public learn more about ladybird spiders and how to help them – and we want to share our enthusiasm for these awesome arachnids! New opportunities to learn more about spiders will be created at the RSPB Arne nature reserve in Dorset.
What we’re aiming for
By the end of the project, we aim to have 20 sustainable populations of Ladybird Spiders in Dorset, which can naturally grow and expand into new areas of heathland, ensuring the future of this special spider.
How to get involved
We’re still coming up with ideas for how people can help the Ladybird Spider; check back here soon.
Let us show you why you should love spiders!
You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.
Annual monitoring, spider collection and site management
Translocations of spiders to 2 sites & training site manager/volunteers
“Spider Garden” constructed & Outreach pack produced for use at events
Ladybird Spider Conservation guidelines published