Wasp spiders showing at RSPB Minsmere

Wasp spider at RSPB Minsmere Pictures: Matt Parrott

Wasp spider at RSPB Minsmere Pictures: Matt Parrott - Credit: Archant

Naturalists should keep an eye out for the striking-looking wasp spider over the coming weeks.

Wasp spider at RSPB Minsmere Pictures: Matt Parrott

Wasp spider at RSPB Minsmere Pictures: Matt Parrott - Credit: Archant

August and early September is the time of year when the impressive arachnid, with distinctive yellow and black stripes, is most prominent, according to Ian Barthorpe at RSPB Minsmere where a number of the creatures have been seen of late.

He said: "The wasp spider is a southern European species that likes the warmth of late summer and feeds on crickets and grasshoppers.

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"They can be tricky to spot as they are found in the long grass on the dunes and their stripes act as camouflage. They are quite a large spider for the UK and the female is considerably bigger than the male. The web is also distinctive, with a thick zig-zag running vertically through it from top to bottom."

According to Mr Barthorpe, the wasp spider was rare in the UK 20 years ago, confined to the south east of England, but has since extended its range west and north up as far as the Midlands.

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"And although we don't recommend it, there is no danger if you touch a wasp spider - if it does bite, the worse you will get is a red mark," he said.

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