A RARE wasp spider has been discovered on the site of a former Usk maternity hospital, for what could be the first time in Wales.

Biologist and volunteer at Cefn Ila Wood, near Llanbadoc, Michael Kilner, was surveying moths last autumn and noticed and recorded more than 25 of these rare arachnids. He noticed some were engaged in breeding behaviour during a short time when the much smaller male is able to mate without being eaten by the female.

Probably named for the black and yellow stripes on its abdomen, the wasp spider (or Argiope bruennichi) preys on flying insects and grasshoppers, and has even been known to capture and devour wasps. The spiders are rare outside the south east of England, but have been increasing their range over the past two decades.

The Woodland Trust acquired Cefn Ila in 2007 and has already planted more than 36,000 trees to create 59 acres of woodland.

With the help of a £25,800 development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the charity plans to develop the new wood to encourage nearby residents to use it.

Visit www.wt-woods.org.uk/cefnila for more information.