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Identification forums

Photograph of the brightly coloured and patterned Jersey tiger moth, Euplagia quadripunctaria, found in the museum Wildlife Garden.

Found a strange insect in your garden, an unusual plant in the park or a fossil on the beach? Get help identifying it.

Whether you are an amateur naturalist, an expert or just curious, you can ask - or answer - all sorts of questions about the UK's biodiversity and our team of Museum scientists are online to help.

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Visit the ID team at the Museum

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

A noble false widow, Steatoda nobilis, recently 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?

Watch Museum films about UK wildlife

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Ask a Museum scientist for help identifying your finds and quiz them on all aspects of UK biodiversity. Just choose a forum and submit your question.

Recent sightings

Bombylius major, the bee fly

Body of a bee, face of a mosquito? The bee-flies have taken wing during spring.

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Museum ID team

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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