The course took place at Peatlands Park 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.
Adam said: “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. 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.”
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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.