Rare jumping spider discovered in UK for first time ever

Harry Cockburn
Bog-dwelling jumping spider Sibianor larae was first recognised in 2001. It has now been discovered living in a bog in England: Lukas Jonaitis/Wikimedia Commons

A rare species of jumping spider never recorded in the UK before has been discovered living in a nature reserve in Cheshire, scientists have said.

Described as an “athletic moss-dwelling” creature, the sighting of the Sibianor larae was made in June at Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Holcroft Moss Nature Reserve, in Warrington.

Arachnologist Richard Burkmar discovered the tiny jumping spider, just half the size of a matchstick head, during a survey visit to the Cheshire bog.

He returned to the site with fellow arachnologist Richard Gallon and were able to find more examples of the spider.

The pair then consulted world jumping spider expert, Dr Dmitri Logunov, the curator of arthropods at Manchester Museum, who confirmed it was Sibianor larae and also the first recognised sighting in Britain.

Dr Logunov had originally described the species when it was new to science in 2001, naming it after his wife Larisa Logunov.

The jumping spider photographed in Cheshire (Richard Gallon)

“We were delighted to hear about all the special discoveries that have been made at our Holcroft Moss Nature Reserve,” said Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Sarah Bennett.

“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.”

She added: “A number of other rare bog spiders were also discovered during the surveys, including the jumping spider Heliophanus dampfi, making it the only site in England where this has been recorded. It is definitely a special site for bog-loving wildlife.”

Though this is the first time Sibianor larae has been identified as living in the UK, it is thought the spider is not a newcomer.

It is believed the spider has survived in British bogs for thousands of years, but has been suffering due to habitat loss.

Following the Cheshire discovery, an old Lancashire specimen from Liverpool’s World Museum, collected in 1924 has also been reidentified by Dr Logunov as Sibianor larae.

“Due to habitat loss there may, however, be no other suitable places left in Britain, emphasising the importance of this site and undamaged bog habitat in general,” said entomologist Gary Hedges, of the World Museum.