We bring you more good news about Britain's rarest spider. Researchers have uncovered a new population of horrid ground-weavers hiding out on the English south coast – and they've managed to capture a live one on camera for the very first time!

Until now, the elusive arachnid (a type of money spider) had been recorded at only three sites in the British coastal city of Plymouth. And considering two of those sites have been lost to development over time, the newly discovered population is a pretty big deal.

"We're delighted to announce that we've found the horrid ground-weaver at a new site, and to now have photographs of live horrid ground-weavers is wonderful,” says Andrew Whitehouse of conservation group Buglife. “However, we need to continue the surveys and learn more about this special spider so we can ensure its survival.”

The new population was tracked down at an industrial site in Plymouth's Cattedown area.

Nothophantes Horridus _2016_02_11
The horrid ground-weaver spider (Nothophantes horridus). Image: John Walters, via Buglife.

Despite its tiny size and unappealing name (which is derived from the Latin word for bristly: "horridus"), the horrid ground-weaver is a bit of a celebrity in spider circles. When a housing development threatened to wipe out its last remaining habitat, the British public took action. A petition to save its home garnered almost 10,000 signatures, and local authorities later ruled in favour of the horrid ground-weaver.

Support for the little-spider-that-could didn’t stop there. More recently, a Crowdfunder campaign raised over £10,000 (US$15,500) to help pay for surveys and research needed to better understand the species.

And if you’re thinking we should be using all that money and people power for something more "worthwhile", remember the wise words of Richard Conniff: “Wildlife is and should be useless in the same way art, music, poetry and even sports are useless.”

Move over, polar bears and pandas, the horrid ground-weaver is claiming its spot in the conservation spotlight.


Top header image: John Walters