Archive of: British Arachnological Society

Most northerly Northern bear spider discovered in Scotland, using unusual habitat!

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Most northerly Northern bear spider discovered in Scotland, using unusual habitat!

While surveying for flies and butterflies during Site Condition Monitoring at Morrich More Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 2015, Director Chris Cathrine made a surprising discovery when a big female Northern bear sider (Arctosa cinerea) ran on to his sweep net!

This is not only the most northerly record for the Northern bear spider in the UK, but is also the first documented example of the species using sandy habitats – in this case on a stabilised dune system.  Although it has been found to use this habitat for some parts of its life cycle in Europe, it is typically found under stones in shingle in the UK.

You can read more about this discovery in an article in the latest issue of the latest issue of the Newsletter of the British Arachnological Society.  The article is also available to read here, via the Caledonian Conservation Ltd publications page.

The Site Condition Monitoring surveys at Morrich More SSSI were completed under contract to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).  For more information about SNH and their work, please visit:

For more information about the Newsletter of the British Arachnological Society and the British Arachnological Society in general, please visit:

Photo:  Arctosa cinerea © Steven Falk.  For more information on Steven Falk’s work and photography, please visit:


Article Published on Colombian Wandering Spider Found in Aberdeenshire

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Article Published on Colombian Wandering Spider Found in Aberdeenshire

Caledonian Conservation’s Director, Chris Cathrine, co-authored an article with Stuart Longhorn for The Newsletter of the British Arachnological Society describing a specimen of Phoneutria (P. cf. boliviensis) which was found in Inverbervie (Aberdeenshire) in a banana shipment from Colombia in 2016.  SRUC later sent the spider to Caledonian Conservation for identification. 

The article was published on 14th August 2017, and provides information on the record, as well as photos and a diagram of the epigyne (female genitals, unique to the species of spider).

With relatively little information published on the identification of Phoneutria (known as ‘wandering spiders’ and belonging to the family Ctenidae, which does not occur naturally in the UK), there was an opportunity to share useful identification details with ecologists working throughout the world.  We are proud that the article was quickly added to the World Spider Catalogue – a resource that collates key taxonomic literature on spiders, for use by academic researchers and other ecologists throughout the world.

Despite frequent media reports claiming Phoneutria spiders (sometimes erroneously referred to by the press as ‘painful erection death spiders’) to have been found in the UK and often indicating they are associated with damaging bites to people, there are no previous records published in scientific literature.  These reports are rarely substantiated, and the specimens are not normally identified by expert arachnologists.  Given the claims of medically important bites, Chris and Stuart felt it would be helpful to describe the effects of the venom of different Phoneutria species based on peer reviewed literature in the article.

It is hoped that this article will help inform a more robust understanding of the occurrence of Phoneutria spiders in the UK, help others identify these species, and be a useful reference source for journalists reporting on wandering spiders in the future.

The article is available to download on the Caledonian Conservation publications page and the World Spider Catalogue.

Learn more about the British Arachnological Society here.

The World Spider Catalogue is hosted by the Natural History Museum of Bern, and more information can be found here.


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