A PROJECT to boost the population of one of Europe’s largest spiders has been hailed a success by the ecologist behind it.
The project began three years ago with Dr Helen Smith, an ecologist with Natural England, rearing baby fen raft spiders in her kitchen with eggs from spiders at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Redgrave and Lopham Fen,.
Those were released on the lower Waveney in autumn 2010 and were confirmed to be breeding in July this year.
The latest batch of spiderlings, raised from Suffolk eggs by one of the 10 zoos now involved, were released last week on Pevensey Levels, Sussex, .
Dr Smith says that by raising the spiders in isolation their survival chances rise by 90 per cent. That is partly because adults, which are up to 10cm across, eat younger ones.
For more details visit www.dolomedes.org.uk