Ladybird spider

This beautiful and tiny spider was rediscovered on a Dorset heathland in 1980, where only a few individuals remained.

Fast Facts

Latin name: Eresus sandaliatus

Notable feature: Striking red abdomen with black spots – like a ladybird!

Where in the UK: Only found on 8 sites in the Dorset heathlands

The Ladybird spider depends on lowland heathland, and unfortunately due to agriculture, forestry, development and other land-use changes, the spider is vulnerable to extinction.

They favour south-facing, sheltered slopes with well drained sandy soil. In amongst the stones and heather, they build vertical silk-lined burrows crowned with a canopy of silk. The silk canopy is how they ambush insects to feed on.

Ladybird spider project

Buglife has been working with partners on the Ladybird spider project to carefully manage the Ladybird spider population. Each year a few spiders are moved onto new heathland sites, with the aim of establishing more sites where the spider can thrive.

Now there are 8 Ladybird spider populations across the Dorset heathlands, but more sites are still needed to safeguard this spider in the future.

Our main Ladybird spider conservation aims are:

  • Establishing new populations of the Ladybird spider
  • Monitoring the existing populations to ensure that they are healthy and sustainable
  • Managing the habitat at Ladybird spider sites so that populations can expand and spread naturally

Life cycle of Ladybird spider

Male Ladybirds spiders reach maturity after approximately 3 years. As mature males, they emerge from their underground burrows around late April – early May on warm, sunny, calm days.

They search for a female to mate with and then die.

The female ladybird spider reaches maturity after 4- 5 years, but may live much longer if a male spider hasn’t found her yet.

After mating, the female ladybird spider lays up to 80 eggs. She cares for the eggs for a few weeks, but then dies.

Spiderlings emerge the following spring and disperse a short distance (often less than 1m) to find a place to excavate their own burrow. When the spiderlings reach maturity, the process begins again.