Share article:
Share article:

Ghent University seeks volunteers for its spider-hunt

Photo by Declan Lopez on Unsplash

Today sees the launch of the first-ever spider-count in Flanders, where members of the public are encouraged to go out into the garden and count how many spiders are there.

The project is organised by the university of Ghent, Natuurpunt and the Belgian Arachnological Association (ARABEL).The purpose of the exercise is to determine if and how well the spider can adapt to life in the city.

Right now is mating time for spiders, and the ones you’re likely to see are males on the hunt for a female with whom to mate. The scientists are particularly interested in the European garden spider (Araneus diadematus), also known variously as the diadem spider, orangie, cross spider or crowned orb weaver.

“We mainly want to know whether garden spiders can adapt to the city and how they do so,” said biologist Bram Vanthournout.

In particular, the scientists want to know if the spider is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as abnormal warmth or drought.

And if you do spot spiders, don’t be tempted to drive them away. The garden spider is an extremely effective partner in fighting off pests like flies and mosquitoes.

“Just walk around your garden and count how many garden spiders are active in the middle of their webs,” Vanthournout told the VRT.

“It is a large spider with the typical white cross on its back.”

© Gail Hampshire/Wikimedia

The cross spider seems unusually well-suited to life in the city, as at home in urban conditions as in the woods.

“You can find it on a blackberry bush in a forest, or on a bench in a park. It seems that it can successfully adapt to different conditions,” Vanthournout said.

“Walk around at night with your torch and count them. Research shows that this spider is very active at night, more than we thought. Artificial light attracts more prey for the spiders. That way, they can serve themselves a nice meal.”

Latest news

Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...
Belgian firms sent almost 266 billion euros to tax havens last year
Hundreds of Belgian firms sent close to 266 billion euros to tax havens last year, De Tijd reported on Saturday. Any Belgian individual or firm ...
Belgian investigator wins prestigious US prize
Olivier Hardy, an investigator with the federal police’s anti-terrorist unit in Brussels, DR3, received on Friday a "Top Cop" prize in Washington for ...
Pegasus Project: European Parliament awards journalism prize to investigation of use of spyware
The Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded on Thursday to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories ...
Belgians can now test their knowledge of driving rules and win prizes
The Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR) launched on Friday a quiz to allow the general public to test their knowledge of the highway code. Last year, ...
600 extras wanted for film about Belgian ‘Porn King’ and notorious Antwerp nightclub
A Belgian movie telling the story of a notorious Antwerp nightclub with connections to a Belgian 'Porn King' is looking for 600 extras at the end of ...
Namur Marathon relaunches after two years on hold
The next edition of the Namur Marathon will take place on April 24, 2022, its organisers announced on Friday, as they also opened registrations. ...
Lidl goes on strike: Half of supermarkets in Belgium closes on Saturday
One in two Lidl shops remained closed on Saturday morning, Lidl spokeswoman Isabelle Colbrandt said. Staff have been on strike for several days to ...
€220 million: Largest ever lottery prize in Europe won in France
A record-breaking €220 million Euromillions jackpot was won on Friday by a player in France, the French gaming authority (FDJ) has announced. The ...
Antwerp exhibition shows first photos after city bombed in 1944
An open-air exhibition in Antwerp will show off never before seen photos as part of a commemoration of the first V-bomb to hit the city, 77 years ...