The Wasp Spider is a very large, colourful spider that is a recent arrival in the UK from the continent and has slowly spread over the south of England. They build large orb webs in grassland and heathland, and attach their silk egg-sacs to the grasses. The web has a wide, white zig-zag strip running down the middle, known as a 'stabilimentum', the function of which is unclear. Mating is a dangerous game for males; they wait at the edge of the web until the female has moulted into a mature form, then take advantage of her jaws being soft and rush in to mate. However, many males still get eaten during this time.
How to identify
The female is yellow black with a white stripe and large; the males are small and pale brown. The Wasp Spider is unmistakeable.
Where to find it
Spreading across southern England.
When to find it
How can people help
The Wasp Spider was first recorded in the UK in the 1920s and has since spread rapidly across the south. With milder winters as a result of climate change, this spider now appears to be expanding its range northwards. The Wildlife Trusts work with researchers, scientists and other conservationists to monitor changes in our native wildlife to determine the effects of environmental change, such as the introduction of new species or climate change. You can help: volunteer for your local Trust and you'll be able to monitor populations and survey habitats, adding to a growing bank of data on the effects of climate change.