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About spiders

House spider, Tegenaria species

Spiders are a distinct group of arthropods that includes house spiders, jumping spiders, wolf spiders, crab spiders, orb web spiders and money spiders.

Spiders are easily identified as they have 8 legs, 2 main body parts and no antennae. All are predators of other invertebrates which are either caught in silk webs or ambushed.

Most people are familiar with the larger species of spider. During the breeding season, which for many species is in the autumn, male spiders wander in search of a mate. They become more conspicuous at these times and more likely to enter houses.

Almost all large or unfamiliar looking spiders found in our homes and gardens are common established UK species. There are occasional exceptions, so if in doubt, ask for a confirmed identification. No UK spiders are of significant medical concern.

Spiders are predators of other invertebrates and play an important role controlling some very prolific species.

Number of UK species: about 640

Don't panic: it's only a false widow spider

A noble false widow, Steatoda nobilis, submitted for identification by CornishGarden.

Museum ID expert Stuart Hine - aka bombuslucorum on the forums - tells the facts and debunks some of the myths surrounding the false widow spiders:

False widow spider is a common name for a group of species in the genus Steatoda. Spiders in this group are found worldwide, with several species being strongly associated with humans in our homes, towns and cities.

The Identification and Advisory Service has received more than a thousand enquiries about false widow spiders over the last 15 years. Enquiries increase significantly when a media report brings them to the attention of the public.

What are these spiders doing in the UK?

Seven species of false widow spiders are recorded in the UK. Four are native to the UK, two were accidentally introduced with traded goods and the other doesn't appear to be established here yet but is frequently imported.

What are the different false widow species?

Mistaken identities - no, it isn't a false widow

I've found one but should I be worried?

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These forums are looked after by scientists and experts in the Museum’s Identification and Advisory Service.

Our fossil, rock, plant and insect experts are dedicated to answering your natural history questions.

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