Huge spider web in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park


ostearius-melanopygius_kengreenway700During September, staff and visitors to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park were astonished when a huge spider web, several metres long, appeared across the top of the green waste pile near the Knapp Road gate. This was not, however, the work of a giant spider, but a joint effort by lots of small ones, as the web was covered in hundreds of tiny spiders.

Local spider expert Edward Milner identified them as Ostearius melanopygius, a communal species not previously recorded in Cemetery Park. Edward found that males, females and juveniles were all present when he examined the web on 3 October, and suspected that a “ballooning” event, where the young spiders disperse by gliding off into the sky on a thread of silk, blown by the breeze. Spiders can travel huge distances, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, in this way. Edward’s suspicions proved correct, as the following day almost all of the spiders had gone.

Ostearius melanopygius is the 145th species of spider recorded in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, making it one of the best sites in London for spiders. In Tower Hamlets, only Mile End Park has a longer spider list, with 164 species.

Photos: Ken Greenway/Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park


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