Wasp spider found on RSPB Lakenheath Fen nature reserve

Wasp spider at RSPB Lakenheath Fen
Image caption The female wasp spider was found while clearing ragwort from the reserve

A female wasp spider has been found at an RPSB reserve in East Anglia for the first time.

The arachnid, measuring about 2.4in (6cm) in length, was found at Lakenheath Fen, which crosses the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

Experts said the spider was a "rare sighting", with only five recorded in Norfolk in the last seven years.

Warden Katherine Puttick, who made the find, said she could "appreciate its beauty... from a distance".

The wasp spider, first recorded in England in the 1920s, is most likely to have arrived via trade routes from the Mediterranean and continental Europe.

'Capable of biting'

Ms Puttick said: "We were clearing ragwort from an area of grazing marsh when I noticed, looking as its underside, what I thought was just a large spider.

"Going to the other side of its web revealed it as a wasp spider.

Image caption The spider was first recorded in England in the 1920s

"It was a case of being in the right place in the right time."

The spider was discovered in a 99 acre (40 hectare) area on the Norfolk side of the reserve, which sits between the villages of Hockwold and Lakenheath, on 5 September.

Pip Collyer, of the British Arachnological Society, said: "Our records show they seem to be creating swathes across the south east of the country.

"One would be capable of biting you as it's big enough to pierce the human skin, but it's unlikely to produce any venomous reaction."

Living in long grass and low vegetation, the wasp spider builds an orb web with a vertical zigzag pattern of silk.

Ms Puttick said: "Like most things when it comes to wildlife, you're never quite sure what's going to pop up where, but she'll feed well on the reserve as there's plenty of crickets and grasshoppers."

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