If jumping spiders scare you, you may not want to read this
Even those normally not bothered by arachnids may find jumping spiders a little unsettling, although most are harmless. Arachnophobes may think they’re downright terrifying.
But this species takes it a little far – about six feet, in fact.
The tiny, moss-dwelling Sibianor larae are relatively rare, normally found in bogland in Europe and Russia. The minuscule jumping spiders – about the size of a match head – were spotted in Britain for the first time recently, although it is believed to have lived in peat bogs for millennia.
Don’t let the tiny size fool you, however. The tiny spider is known to be able to leap as high as six feet in the air, taller than an average human.
The discovery has British entomologists thrilled.
“We were delighted to hear about all the special discoveries that have been made at our Holcroft Moss Nature Reserve,” Sarah Bennett of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust told new outlet The Independent. “The site is particularly special as it has never been exploited and cut for peat; something which is unusual for most peatland in the UK.”
Surveys of the nature reserve turned up not just the bouncing Sibianor larae, but several other rare bog-dwelling species of arachnid, including Heliophanus dampi, another species of leaping spider, Bennett said.
The discovery of S. larae in Britain was confirmed by Dr. Dmitri Logunov, curator of anthropods at the Manchester Museum and the scientist who discovered and described the colorful and elusive jumping spiders in 2001. He named the species after his wife, Larisa.
But it wasn’t the first sighting of the species, although it wasn’t recognized at the time. In 1924, a specimen of S. larae was discovered in Lancashire. Logunov examined and re-identified the specimen after the Cheshire Wildlife Trust discovery.
The discovery of the jumping spiders underlines why protecting the Cheshire reserve is so important, scientists told the Daily Mail.
“Due to habitat loss there may … be no other suitable places left in Britain, emphasizing the importance of this site and undamaged bog habitat in general,” Dr. Gary Hedges of the World Museum told the British newspaper.
By Kyla Cathey, Earth.com staff writer
Image credit: Lukas Jonaitis, Wikimedia Commons