The large cave spider Meta menardi (see image) has been elected Spider of the Year for 2012 by the European Society of Arachnology. I would greatly appreciate if cavers could keep their eyes peeled for this animal as they are entering cave systems through 2012.
This large spider is completely harmless and occupies only the twilight area of caves. It sets orb-webs close to the surface of walls and ceiling/wall angles, usually quite high up. The webs and the spider may be difficult to see due to the low light levels. It can be most easily spotted by looking for the large, white, globular, egg sac, some 2 to 3 cms in length, which the female suspends close to her web. These sacs are diagnostic of the species. If they or the spider are seen I would greatly appreciate if a photograph was taken and details of the cave location (name of cave will do) and date forwarded to me. Any additional information would be appreciated e.g. a rough estimate of the number of egg sacs.
I am informed by Colin Bunce that this spider is common in Irish caves, however I would like all the records individuals are willing to supply. I would also be very interested in negative records i.e. if the spider is not seen in a cave. All contributors of records will be acknowledged in potential publications.
Myles Nolan email@example.com m: 087 2315 015