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In search of the elusive ladybird spider

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The female is a velvety blue-black. The male looks a bit more like its namesake. These are ladybird spiders (Eresus sandaliatus). The elusive, raisin-sized spider was once thought to have been extinct, but UK-based conservation efforts have increased its numbers from seven to over 2,000 individuals since 1980.

In this 2016 clip from the BBC’s Autumnwatch, Gillian Burke gets an up close look at the ladybird spider relocation programme in Arne, Dorset.

male ladybird spider
Spider expert and conservationist Ian Hughes demonstrates how he finds and cares for these underground-dwellers until he can relocate them in spring. From The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds:

During the original translocation, scientists used an ingenious low-tech method of transferring the spiders. They used empty plastic mineral water bottles which are an ideal shape and size for the spiders to make their nests in. The bottles were filled with heather and moss and captured spiders from the donor site were placed inside and monitored while they settled in and made a web. The bottles were then buried in holes in the ground so that the spiders could colonise the nearby area.

female ladybird spider
Watch another ladybird spider video on this site. Plus: More spiders, including Spid-a-boo! The Jotus remus peacock spider waves its paddle leg, Spiders Tune Their Webs Like A Guitar, and the incredibly strong (and massive) web of the Darwin’s bark spider.

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