The Purseweb Spider is unique among British species in belonging to the infraorder Mygalomorphae, the same that includes the tarantulas and trapdoor spiders, among others. This spider has been comparatively well studied, which has allowed a fairly in-depth understanding of its remarkable life history. In this article, Richard Burkmar and Richard Price provide an introduction to the biology of the Purseweb Spider, and explain why there is reason to be concerned about the population trends of this fascinating species.
Although spiders feature significantly in our national culture and folklore, few of Britain’s or Ireland’s species have attained an individual identity in the eyes of the public. When that accolade is bestowed, it is often for all the wrong reasons – as the recent, unwarranted infamy of the Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis attests.