Don’t scream, just post them to Geoff

SPIDER-LOVERS in north Northumberland are being asked to look out for big creepy crawlies in their homes this autumn.

Now that the central heating is being cranked up and fires are being lit, it always seems to send the long-legged beauties running out from underneath the sofa.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust would like people to collect them as part of a huge ecological research project at the University of York.

Scientists at the university are studying the distribution of the six species of large house spiders in the UK. Of the six types, two are the most common, apart from in this part of the country where only one type is common, and they want to know why.

In addition, the two most common spiders are breeding and are creating superspiders with even longer legs.

Steve Lowe, the Trust’s head of conservation, said: “We are looking for the supermodels of the spider world. You know the sort, the ones with massive legs and small bodies which can empty a room in five seconds.”

If you spot one scurrying across the floor, simply collect it (alive) inside half a toilet roll tube, packing it with a small amount of damp tissue and post it in a crush-proof container such as a margarine tub and post it, together with details of where you found it, postcode and contact details to: Dr Geoff Oxford, Department of Biology (Area 14), University of York, Wentworth Way, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD. All material will be acknowledged and postage costs reimbursed.