Fen raft spider wins Buglife Cymru’s national bug vote

Wednesday 13th June 2018

Buglife Cymru is excited to announce the results of a recent National Bug Vote. The vote, delivered via Twitter gave Buglife Cymru followers the option to vote for Ashy mining bee, Black oil beetle, Fen raft spider and Hornet robberfly. All of these species are important and valued in their own right, however the competition was quickly wrapped in a web as the Fen-raft spider spun to victory with half the total votes cast. Only the Ashy mining bee even managed half the vote of Britain’s largest spider.

The full Wales result

Fen raft spider                                  (Dolomedes plantarius)                                50%

Ashy mining bee                              (Andrena cineraria)                        26%

Black oil beetle                                  (Meloe proscarabaeus)                 18%

Hornet robberfly                              (Asilus crabroniformis)                  6%

The Fen raft spider is one of Wales’ largest and rarest spiders, reaching up to 23mm in length. Female fen raft spiders are good mothers – they carry an egg sac with them for approximately 3-4 weeks before weaving a nursery web where the spiderlings hatch. The mother spider will stay near the nursery web to protect her offspring until they are big enough to fend for themselves. Fen raft spiders live around the margins of pools and ditches and are able to hunt above and below the water surface. In Wales they are only found in in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot at Crymlyn Bog NNR and along the Tennant Canal.

Clare Dinham, Buglife Cymru Manager says: All of our nominated species in Wales are amazing, but it’s no surprise that the Fen raft spider took the top spot. It’s a large, yet secretive spider that is very protective of it’s young and can even hunt its prey below the surface of water! The spider is a great ambassador for the importance of good water quality in our freshwaters in Wales.

Caroline Jones AM, Species Champion for the Fen raft spider says: I saw this species for the first time last year and was amazed to see such a magnificent and rare spider within my patch here in South Wales West. Spiders often receive an unjust bad press, but the result of this vote shows that this opinion is now changing, which is great news.

The Fen raft spider, along with the winning invertebrates from our other UK nations will soon be gracing the cover of Buglife’s 2017 annual review and will individually be the front for a new series of membership recruitment leaflets.