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The cave-dwelling spider

A dark tomb is, for a spider, the same as a cave

The vaults which line the Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetery are really just human-made caves and have become a peaceful sanctuary for rare cave spiders. Fear not! They won't come looking for you...

The humble Meta bourneti is classified as nationally scarce yet it is not only present but thriving in the cemetery's historic tombs, where its population is increasing.  But how did it get there in first place? Scientists still have to find out.

The vaults have a remarkable range of biodiversity not so readily found outside. Among these there are a considerable number of wood lice (which are likely at the base of the food web) but also beetles, snails, centipedes and some remarkable wasps which in spring will feed on moth caterpillars. 

All are flourishing, partly because they are rarely disturbed, and so their habitat is very stable. 

You can read more in our April 2021 newsletter!