A NEW survey confirms the presence of at least six rare spiders in Killarney National Park. They are thriving in some of Ireland’s finest remaining examples of ancient oak and yew woodlands.
Myles Nolan, an arachnologist (spider expert) who conducted the survey, said a key factor in the abundance of these spiders in the area was the lack of human interference with the habitat.
‘’This habitat has had continuity for hundreds, if not thousands, of years with less impactful management by people than many other areas of the country. If that woodland were to disappear, the woodland specialists, including many of these spiders, would go as well,’’ he explained.
Species of special interest confirmed in Killarney include the green huntsman, the Eurasian green crab spider and the triangle spider. The huntsman is restricted to south-west Ireland and prefers a combination of old woodland, preferably oak, and good quality, wet grassland.
Mr Nolan also came upon some orb-weaving and crab spiders which, he pointed out, were found in plentiful supply only in the national park. ‘’They are known from, at most, one or two other sites in Ireland,’’ he said.
He worked in close cooperation with three local conservation rangers, Sean Forde, Mary Sheehan and William Hunt, who were able to assist with fieldwork and get him rapidly to specific kinds of habitat in the park.
‘’We were surprised at the large number of these spiders,’’ Mr Forde said. ‘
As rangers, we’re sort of jacks-of-all-trades and have to know a little about lots of things. We’re always delighted to help experts and guide them when they come here doing surveys.
Separately, several people have recently been reporting sightings of what appeared to be extra-large spiders. Mr Nolan, however, is adamant spiders are not getting any bigger, but are now reaching their full size and are moving about more than usual _ normal behaviour at this time of year. Some may be forced indoors by colder weather which makes them more visible.
Most of these creatures are harmless to humans. Our two biggest are the common house spider and the daddy longlegs, with both playing a useful role in controlling flies and mites.
The false widow spider, an immigrant from the Canary Islands, was first recorded here in the 1990s and is believed to be more of a threat to our native spiders than to people.
On an entirely different matter, meanwhile, a talk on reducing waste in the home and saving money in the process will be given by Valerie Ui Aodha, in Ionad Culturtha, Ballyvourney, Co Cork, tomorrow,, November 19, at 8.30pm.