Whenever I ask people to name their least favourite British wildlife they almost always nominate two species: spiders and snakes.

Some blame the sudden movements of spiders and the slithery nature of snakes while many believe their bites are dangerous.

Let’s save snakes for another column and concentrate on spiders because this is the time of year they can be readily observed. In your garden early on a crisp, damp, sunny morning you should find spider webs everywhere. Or the local park.

If you have never thought of looking closely at spiders they really repay diligent study. Their ability to weave webs, trap prey, eat the silk from a damaged web and spin another within 24 hours is among nature’s greatest wonders. There will almost certainly be an Orbweb spider doing this in your garden or park.

Wild Things: A new haven for nature

To help you identify species an updated second edition of Britain’s Spiders field guide is a useful tool. It includes details of all 38 British spider families, 700 superb photographs and profiles of more than 400 individual species. Among these is the Distinguished Jumping Spider, vital to Buglife’s campaign against theme park construction in Swanscombe.

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Image courtesy of Princeton University Press

The book explodes several spider myths. Their bite may cause irritation but no human has ever been killed by a spider bite in the UK. Spiders actually benefit householders, gardeners and farmers by devouring insect pests.

Wild Things: A rediscovery of nature

So next time you see a spider in the bath or garden don’t recoil in horror or reach for a rolled-up newspaper. Grab this super book and learn a little about what you see. Its 496 pages include:

• Nine species new to Britain, species information and distribution maps, identification guides to spider families and distinctive species.

• Detailed accounts and photographs which highlight key field identification features for each genus and species, plus information on status, behaviour and habitats

• Introductory chapters on the biology of spiders, and where, when and how to find them, including equipment needed in the field

• Information on recording spiders and making records count.

Britain’s Spiders by Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford and Helen Smith is published for WildGuides by Princeton University Press. Price £25.