A SPIDER that experts thought was extinct has turned up in Weymouth.

RSPB volunteers at Radipole Lake Nature Reserve have rediscovered a species not seen for more than 100 years. The spider Hypsosinga heri was last seen in the UK in 1912.

Volunteers were amazed to spot a female of the species while carrying out a routine butterfly survey at Radipole Lake.

The discovery was actually made some months ago but the species has only been confirmed and details announced today. More have since been spotted but strangely, no males have been seen.

Volunteer Allan Neilson said: “Sara Cookson, Jacquie Rayner and myself were nearing the end of a butterfly survey last summer when we saw a very small brightly-coloured spider on flowers near the side of one of the nature reserve’s paths.

“I took some photographs, checked my field guide and posted them to the Spider Recording Society’s web forum asking for help. It took a while, but we were delighted that the spider was confirmed as Hypsosinga heri – or Harriet as we’ve called her.”

Despite repeated surveys the only two previous accepted UK records of the spider were in 1898 and 1912 at Wicken Fen near Ely, Cambridgeshire, and it was on the point of being removed from the British list.

In May, Allan and Sara found two females on the reserve and in the past few days a second group has been found at the Lodmoor reserve.

Allan added. “This year we’ve had three more sightings of this tiny spider in moderately tall vegetation near reeds and we’re wondering where else might it be found. But so far, all we’ve found are females – which begs the question: where are the males?”

RSPB South West spokesman Tony Whitehead said: Our West Country reserves are always full of natural surprises, and iI"It’s wonderful to hear stories like this where, in giving nature a home, we can provide not only for birds, but for spiders like Harriet.

"And, best of all, Radipole Lake is very much an urban reserve, so who knows, maybe there are other Harriets in people gardens?"

In providing for nature in our back yards it’s good to think what we might be helping."