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Exotic spider species seen in East Suffolk as wild grasses allowed to grow

PUBLISHED: 19:00 14 August 2020

Wasp spiders have been seen in areas of East Suffolk allowed to grow wild, such as this one photographed by James Mallinder, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for the environment. Picture: JAMES MALLINDER

Wasp spiders have been seen in areas of East Suffolk allowed to grow wild, such as this one photographed by James Mallinder, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for the environment. Picture: JAMES MALLINDER

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They may be used to the sunny climes of continental Europe, but an exotic spider species has been making East Suffolk its home this summer thanks to wild grasses being allowed to grow.

James Mallinder, cabinet member for the environment with signs for the re-wilding project. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL/JAMES MALLINDERJames Mallinder, cabinet member for the environment with signs for the re-wilding project. Picture: EAST SUFFOLK COUNCIL/JAMES MALLINDER

East Suffolk Council chose 40 spots across the district in June to ‘rewild’ – where grasses would be left to grow longer to help encourage pollinators and other wildlife to flourish.

And within weeks all manner of bugs, birds and insects have been enjoying their new-found summer homes.

But perhaps one of the most striking has been the exotic-looking wasp spider – a regular sight in the warmer parts of Europe which has only made the journey to the southern shores of the UK in recent years, and now appears to be making a presence in Suffolk.

MORE: East Suffolk’s 40 rewilding areas unveiled

James Mallinder, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for the environment who snapped the striking arachnid in his own garden’s wild lawn patch, said it was an indicator of climate change and the warmer temperatures being experienced in this country.

“I let part of my lawn grow long at the same time as the district-wide growing and we have seen crickets, butterflies and all sorts – you definitely notice immediately an increase in nature and the pollinators and the bird life,” he said.

“The wasp spider is visually nice, and it’s the biggest spider I have ever seen.

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“Wasp spiders are common in continental Europe but quite a recent arrival on our shores on the south coast.”

Long grass areas allow pollinators to thrive without being threatened by pesticides, and also require less management or regular cuts.

The 40 areas of public space across East Suffolk have been illustrated with signs saying ‘Pardon the weeds, we are feeding the bees’ so people know what those areas are about – and it appears the project has already proved popular.

Mr Mallinder said: “The feedback has been excellent. We tested it with 40 sites and we are expecting over 100 over the next year.

“People have really engaged with it – some areas look amazing and we have had really positive feedback.

“We were mentioned on Jeremy Vine’s show and encouraging other districts across Suffolk to try this.”

The council confirmed it was not allowing everywhere to grow wild, only areas where it was appropriate.

Mr Mallinder added: “It’s not cost-cutting, it’s not being left, but it turns it into a mini-nature reserve.

“People have really engaged with nature more [during the coronavirus lockdown] and it’s really noticeable that people appreciate it in their own community or garden.”


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