If you suffer from arachnophobia, look away now! This spider, found recently in one of the outer fields at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, was the biggest spider I’ve seen in Britain. That’s still not big when compared to Tarantulas or Huntsmen or other large species but it was big enough to make me feel both a teeny bit freaked out and totally fascinated at the same time.
This is a female Four-spotted orb weaver (Araneus quadratus), a species that’s apparently quite common in Britain and can be found in a variety of habitats, from grassland and bogs to gardens and woodlands. As with many spiders, females are larger than males. In this species, females can grow to 17mm long, while the males are only half that size.
This beauty was slowly making her way through the long grass at the edge of a bramble patch. Because of the size of her body, she was struggling to stay upright, and several times overbalanced. But those long striped legs are obviously quite strong and she easily managed to pull herself upright again.
I spotted this orb weaver because her apricot colour stood out from her surroundings but, according to the Naturespot website, adult females are like chameleons, able to change their colour to coordinate with their surroundings, though that process can take about three days to complete. Fascinating!