‘Extinct’ diamond spider spotted in Worksop

The Diamond Spider, thought to be extinct, has made an appearance in Worksop.
The Diamond Spider, thought to be extinct, has made an appearance in Worksop.

A spider presumed extinct in Britain for 50 years has made a comeback in Worksop - sparking delight for naturalists and horror for arachnophobes.

Two National Trust volunteers were astonished to find a Diamond spider (Thanatus formicinus) while searching for arachnids in heathland at Clumber Park.

The spider has only been recorded in the UK on three occasions, all of them in the South of England, and not since 1969.

The discovery was made by volunteer rangers as part of ongoing ecological monitoring of the park.

Lucy Stockton, who made the discovery, says, “The spider ran away from me twice but with persistence and some luck I caught it; at the time I had no idea that it would turn out to be such a rare find.

“Upon closer inspection our spider had a conspicuous ‘cardiac mark’, a black diamond shape on its abdomen, edged with white that helped us to identify it.

“We were thrilled to have discovered this new resident of Clumber Park and to prove that this species is definitely not extinct in the UK.”

The last recorded sightings of the Diamond Spider occurred in Legsheath and Duddleswell, in Ashdown Forest, in 1969.

The arachnid was also found near Brokenhurst, in the New Forest, at the end of the 19th century. Its habitat includes boggy areas with moss, purple moor grass and heather.

Its English name derives from the thin black diamond on its back.

The National Trust is working on an £8.5 million restoration programme ‘Clumber Park Revitalised’, to revive parts of Clumber Park, which includes restoring areas of heathland and other important habitats for wildlife. This is part of the conservation charity’s wider ambition to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.

Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive of Buglife, said, “We are absolutely delighted that this pretty little spider has been re-found, we had almost given up hope.

“It is a testament to the crucial importance of charities like the National Trust saving and managing heathland habitats.”S