Rare spider found near Lough Neagh ‘an indicator of climate change’

The discovery the Heath Comb-foot Spider is believed to be an indicator of climate change around Lough Neagh
The discovery the Heath Comb-foot Spider is believed to be an indicator of climate change around Lough Neagh

A number of rare spiders including one that hasn’t been seen before in Northern Ireland were found at a recent training course at Peatlands Park near Dungannon.

The discovery the Heath Comb-foot Spider is believed to be an indicator of climate change, with the creature expanding its range in milder conditions.

It was especially exciting to discover a new species for Northern Ireland, the Heath Comb-foot Spider (Simitidion similis)

Adam Mantell

The course took place in an area of bog, wetland and natural woodland habitat south of Lough Neagh that is well known for its biodiversity.

The course was led by Buglife’s Northern Ireland Officer Adam Mantell.

“I was very surprised to see so many rare spiders, especially this early in the year when many will still be tucked away for the winter,” said Adam.

“It was especially exciting to discover a new species for Northern Ireland, the Heath Comb-foot Spider (Simitidion similis).

“This is a rare spider in Ireland with just a handful of previous records from Kilkenny and the Midlands.

“It is a small but very attractive species that is easily recognised by a prominent white band across its back.

According to Buglife-The Invertebrate Conservation Trust the spider is more commonly found in heathland in the south east of England.

“Its presence this far north may indicate that it is one of the few species doing well because of climate change, and is expanding its range as the climate warms. The finds reinforce the need to protect our natural and cultural heritage by ensuring that the remaining areas of good quality natural habitats, especially wetlands and the iconic Irish bogs and peatlands North and South of the border are properly protected from further damage,” said the Trust.