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Spiders fill a vital niche in the New Forest, and helping to regulate the numbers of insects is just one of their roles. They’re an important food source for many birds, and some birds use spiders’ webs to help ‘glue’ their nests together.

The New Forest with its varying habitats is a vital natural resource for a huge number of wildlife species – including spiders.

Spiders can be divided into hunters (those that actively seek out and catch their prey) and web builders (those that sit and wait for their prey to get caught in the web). Some live on the ground out in the open heaths and forest floors, some among the bushes and ancient trees and some prefer to share our homes!

Unlike insects, spiders have just two main body parts: a cephalothorax at the front (including the head, where the legs attach) and an abdomen at the back.

All spiders have piercing mouth parts, and a poisonous venom that paralyses their prey, but is largely just an irritant to humans if bitten. However, most spiders are timid and prefer to run or even feign death rather than fight a large opponent!

You can find spiders at any time of year but since they mostly feed on insects, which tend to be most active in warmer months, it’s best to look in the summer and autumn. In the New Forest, spiders’ webs are particularly conspicuous on cool, damp autumn mornings when the droplets of dew glisten in the sunlight.

Of about 650 spider species found in the UK, about 450 live in the New Forest. Here we feature just a small selection of common and more specialist species.

Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of August.'

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