Crazy creature coincidence! Two rare species spotted just three miles apart

Rare spider Meta Bourneti found at Stowe
Rare spider Meta Bourneti found at Stowe

A bright orange butterfly - never seen before in the UK - and a rare 7cm spider have been found in the same week, just a few miles apart.

The butterfly was spotted by an officer for The Parks Trust, on private farmland in Tingewick while a Stowe House gardener found the spider.

A Meadow Fritillary is normally found fluttering through south-western Europe in flowery meadows but Martin Kincaid stumbled across one while he was looking for water voles.

Biodiversity officer Mr Kincaid, who was with a group of volunteers at the time, said: “This is an amazing discovery.

“In the field it was clearly a species that I hadn’t seen before so to discover that it has never previously been seen in mainland Britain is really exciting.

“Butterflies are good indicators of the health of our environment and to have spotted a rare butterfly is incredibly encouraging.”

The butterfly is only small with a wingspan of 3cm but is hard to miss with its glowing orange colour, often with brown or black markings.

Its identity has been confirmed by the Butterfly Conservation.

Meanwhile, a spider with just 81 recorded sightings in 100 years was spotted by a gardener.

The Meta Bourneti, one of the largest spiders in the UK measuring up to 7cm, was found in the Ice House by the statue of Queen Caroline at Stowe House.

It lives in caves as it requires total darkness, constant temperatures and high levels of humidity.

Gardener Anna Howgego said: “I recently watched the television show Countryfile discussing cave spiders so I recognised the egg sac.

“And I realised it must belong to a spider similar to the ones on the programme and definitely not one I had seen at Stowe before.”

Spider expert Dr Helen Read at Burnham Beaches confirmed it to be a Meta Bourneti.

They are harmless to humans but prey on small insects and woodlice.

Females produce teardrop-shaped egg sacks, which hang suspended on a silk thread from the roof of the cave.

The team at Stowe is exploring ways to conserve the habitat to help the rare species remain present.