Radio 2

Become a spider spotter!

Scientists at Ghent University today launched the first big Flemish Spider Count together with nature organisation Natuurpunt and ARABEL, the Belgian arachnological association.  The general public is encouraged to count garden spiders during the daytime but also at night.  The research is undertaken to discover whether spiders can adapt to life in the city.

It's that time of year when spiders get together to multiply.  It’s above all male spiders you will encounter as they go in search of a mate.  Scientists at Ghent University are seizing this opportunity to map out the Flemish spider population. 

Biologist Bram Vanthournhout: “Above all we want to discover whether spiders can adapt to city life and how they accomplish this.”

Scientists also want to learn whether spiders are affected by climate change, but also whether spider populations are larger in the city or in rural areas.  Members of the public are encouraged to count the garden spiders they find, the large spiders with a typical white cross on their back, seated at the middle of their web in your garden.

The public is also urged to be on he look-out at night.  It’s then spiders display great activity as a result of artificial lights that illuminate their environment. Artificial light also attracts spider prey and that is an advantage for these insects.

The spider count forms part of a larger spider project: Spin City or ‘Spider City’ in English. Since 2019 members of the public have been able to send in photos using the Spiderspotterapp.  To report spiders in your garden go to the website.

“So far we have received 10,000 snaps” says Bram Vanthournhout. 

The team is now analysing the data and will report later.

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