A NEW species of spider has been discovered in a forest in rural County Antrim.
The arcane tongue spider (Centromerus arcanus) is one of three new species found according to a new survey by the wildlife charity Buglife.
The rare arachnid was discovered at Breen Wood near Ballycastle, a native Oakwood forest protected by the National Nature Reserve.
The tiny money spider is infrequently found in Europe amongst forest litter in mountainous areas.
In Britain and Ireland, the bug appears to be confined to mountain summits, forests and bogs as well.
Also discovered recently were the Tree Comb-foot Spider (Anelosimus vittatus) and the Tree H-weaver (Episinus maculipes) – which have not previously been recorded on the island of Ireland.
The Tree Comb-foot species was found for the first time on shrubs in forest rides in Rostrevor Wood, Co. Down, while the Tree H-weaver was discovered in the same forest shortly after.
The three species will now be added to a list of 2929 spider species found in Northern Ireland.
Adam Mantell, Buglife Northern Ireland Manager said: “This species [Tree-H] was first recorded in Britain in 1929 and has gradually been expanding its range.
“This record appears to be the most northern in Europe suggesting it is doing the same on this side of the Irish channel.
“Episinus spiders have a unique way of catching prey. At night they spin an H-shaped web in low vegetation in which they hang upside down to catch prey passing beneath”.
He added: “These are some exciting finds, and show how there is so much more to discover about Northern Ireland’s wildlife.
“Our protected sites are vitally important for the conservation of invertebrates, our surveys are helping to manage them in the right way to conserve their wildlife riches.”