THE FACT that the Guinness Book of Records has authenticated the claim for the largest spider's web ever known in the United Kingdom - a monster network 16ft 8in by 12ft 6in, found in Newent - will bring no comfort to arachnophobes. According to one expert, Paul Hillyard, our whole culture is peculiarly anti-spider: whereas other nationalities are indifferent to the creatures, we put them top of our hate list.
All spiders are predators; many species spin their webs in order to trap insects. Others go hunting, and some keep still, lying in wait till they jump on a victim.
For timid Britons, the main enemy is the house-spider, which can grow to three or four inches across. Males die at the end of their first year, but females live up to two years, and can survive the winter.