Now in a comprehensively revised and updated new edition, Britain's Spiders is a guide to all 38 of the British families, focussing on spiders that can be identified in the field. Illustrated with a remarkable collection of photographs, it is designed to be accessible to a wide audience, including those new to spider identification. This book pushes the boundaries of field identification for this challenging group, combining information on features that can be seen with the naked eye or a hand lens with additional evidence from webs, egg-sacs, behaviour, phenology, habitats and distributions. Individual accounts cover 404 species – all of Britain's "macro" spiders and the larger money spiders, with the limitations to field identification clearly explained. This new edition includes nine species new to Britain, many recent name changes, updated distribution maps and species information, new guides to help identify spider families and distinctive species, and the latest species checklist.
Lawrence Bee is an ecological consultant and educator and the author of the Field Studies Council's Guide to House and Garden Spiders. Geoff Oxford is a biologist at the University of York and an authority on both colour variation and speciation in spiders. Helen Smith is a conservation biologist and currently leads the conservation programme for the endangered Fen Raft Spider.
This book is produced in collaboration with the British Arachnological Society, of which all three authors are active members.
"[...] Clearly, we ignore (or worse still, I persecute) spiders at our peril. And the first step in not ignoring them is to know what they are, Which is where the new edition of this splendid guide comes in. [...]The authors have done everything they can to help you on the way, easing you into spider ID in easy stages. The complete novice (i.e. me) will be encouraged by four pages of frequently-seen species, the sorts of spiders you are likely to see in the house or garden. [...] In short, [...] this fine, good-value guide provides all you need to begin exploring the wonderful world of spiders. It deserves to inspire a whole new generation of arachnologists."
– Ken Thompson, The Niche 53(1), spring 2022
"Spiders have long had a scary reputation. Not just for arachnophobes but for a great army of field naturalists trying to identify them. In the past the difficulty in naming all but a few distinctive species have turned many people away from the subject [...] . The first edition was published in 2017 and was instantly well received. [...] As with many UK taxa, knowledge changes and in the case of spiders things have moved on very quickly. In this new fully revised and updated 2020 reprint we find the book now covering 404 species (including nine 'new' species for the UK) illustrated by 900 photographs (previously 700) over 496 pages (480 in the first edition), adopting recent name changes, utilising updated distribution maps, and delving even deeper than the first edition did into features that can be seen with a hand lens to help with field identification. [...] For spider enthusiasts there is no choice, it is the book to own. I suppose there may be many naturalists with a passing interest who will question their need to spend another £20 on an updated copy only three years after the first. The serious enthusiast will want it without question but the former may find it harder to justify buying a second copy with new additions.[...]"
– Andrew Bloomfield, Atropos 68, 2021
Reviews of the first edition:
"This is a guide that will revolutionise the study of British spiders, allowing confident field identification of many species and encouraging a new cohort of natural historians to take a closer look at these extraordinary creatures."
– Peter Smithers, Antenna (Royal Entomological Society)
"One reason arachnids are so misunderstood is a general lack of decent field guides to teach us anything about them, a gap this book fills with aplomb."
– Ross Piper, BBC Wildlife
"I can't think of a field guide to any group of organisms that is more densely packed with information than this guide to Britain's spiders. Chunky, glossy and colourful, this is an exciting proposition, and only the second photographic guide to our spiders, following the long out-of-print Country Life Guide to Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe (Dick Jones, 1983). [...] Britain's Spiders is a fine guide and good value for money, and as an introduction to our macro-spiders it sets a new high standard."
– Matt Shardlow, Atropos 60, 2017
"This book has been long awaited and fills a gap in the market vacant since the last photographic field guide was published, in 1989. [...] Britain’s Spiders: A Field Guide is accessible to novices, but does not ‘dumb down’ its content to the extent that it will not be of interest to the more experienced [...] It is well produced, clearly laid out and contains everything that one might expect. [...] Photographic guides are not to everyone’s taste, but in no way does that detract from the purpose and function of this book. It engages, inspires, and enables spiders to be named. How far beyond its scope you take things is down to the reader, though I strongly suspect that many arachnologists of the future will have been inspired by their encounter with this feld guide"
– Paul Tinsley-Marshall, British Wildlife 28(6), August 2017