Garden Centre Spider
Special features: The Garden Centre spider (Uloborus plumipes) was only recently introduced to England inside exotic potted plants. It can be recognised by it's two humped, triangular abdomen, and it's long, 'plumed' (hairy) front legs. When resting on its web the Garden Centre Spider typically leaves its front pair of legs stretched out in front of its body. It is sometimes called the "Feather-legged lace weaver".
The Garden Centre Spider is so called because it was first noticed in the UK in garden centres, around the early 1990's. Since then the exotic plant trade has helped it spread through much of the UK. It's native to the Mediterranean, south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but by catching a lift on potted plants it has now spread to most parts of the world.
Coming from hotter counties it's quite at home in heated glasshouses in England. The spider can be a bonus to gardeners as it helps to control whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) in the greenhouse. This spider is harmless to people as it lacks venom glands. It uses a web to catch its prey, and then by wrapping its victims in more silk, manages to overpower them.
Because the spider looks like a dead leaf it can often be missed. However, the egg sacs are very distinctive. They are about 5mm long and look like tiny dried up, beige coloured holly leaves.
Scientific name: Uloborus plumipes
Size: Females up to 6mm
Distribution: Found in many parts of the UK - more frequently in England.
Months seen: March to October
Habitat: Found in heated glasshouses
Food: Flies and other small insects