- Windsor Castle was on red alert today after a colony
of "mystery" spiders was found living underground.
- World renowned entomologist Graham Smith was called in
after British Telecom engineers discovered swarms of the giant venomous
creatures on underground cables at Windsor Great Park, metres from the
Queen Mother's weekend residence Royal Lodge.
- Mr Smith, a member of the Project-ARK conservation team
with a mission to save endangered species, said the creatures can attack
and will not be repelled by conventional means.
- He believes the spiders, which have a leg-span of up
to 9cm, may be a new species that must be preserved. "It's an extremely
exciting find because they are probably a new species or a species that
we thought had been extinct in this country for thousands of years,"
- "Who knows how long these spiders have been in the
royal park because they live under-ground. There could be literally thousands
and thousands of them. It would be no surprise if they are living underneath
Windsor Castle itself."
- Mr Smith and fellow experts still need to find out how
dangerous the spiders are to humans but great care is being taken not to
- "The species is certainly venomous and the jaws
are strong enough to penetrate human skin," he said.
- "It will take a few days before we can work out
how dangerous they are."
- The alarm was raised when a British Telecom engineer
lifted a manhole to carry out maintenance work.
- Royal park residents have been warned that the spiders
should not be touched.
- The creatures discovered so far have large fangs, hairy
legs, an aggressive nature and a predominantly rusty red and black colouring.
- "We've taken around a dozen samples so that we can
make a positive identification and establish whether or not it is a new
species. But we don't even know if they're fully grown," Mr Smith
- "In the meantime, it is no good trying to fumigate
the area. All that will do is force them out into a wider area. In any
case they will probably be a protected species."
- Mr Smith said: "It may take a couple of years to
remove the spiders from the network of underground cables."
- To track down the spiders in the underground labyrinth
of tunnels, the Project-ARK team will use sophisticated electronic mole
cameras, a device comparable to the endoscopes used on humans by doctors.
- When the spiders are found they can then be enticed and
captured, a lengthy process that may require strategic sites to be excavated
depending on how far the spiders spread.
- The team will spend the next few days observing their
- © Associated Newspapers Ltd.