The BAS is Britain’s only charity dedicated exclusively to spiders and their relatives – the arachnids. We use science and education to advance the wider understanding and appreciation of arachnids and to promote their conservation. Our main focus is Britain’s over 670 species of spiders, 27 harvestmen and 27 false scorpions (pseudoscorpions). We are very actively involved in providing accurate information to the public on these very important, fascinating, but often misrepresented animals.
We encourage active participation in the study of arachnids - arachnology - through the provision of information, training and mentoring to anyone wanting to become more involved in identification, recording or studying the biology of this group. Children are also encouraged to develop their enthusiasm for arachnids through activities on our website and regular articles in the Amateur Entomological Society's Bug Club magazine. As well as joining a growing community of arachnologists, our members benefit from our triannual Newsletter and scientific journal, Arachnology, a discussion forum and a very extensive library of arachnological books and scientific papers.
The BAS runs the national recording schemes for spiders and harvestmen and supports the scheme for false scorpions. These provide up-to-date information on the distributions of arachnid species and also contribute to our knowledge of their biology and habitat requirements.
Our recording schemes, together with targeted surveys and research, help to underpin arachnid conservation in Britain. We provide impartial scientific information and expert advice to Government and the non-governmental conservation organisations as well as to conservation practitioners, private interests and the public.
Although the main focus of our work is in the Britain, we are part of a much wider community of arachnologists worldwide. Many of our members are from abroad and our journal ''Arachnology'' has an international focus.
The BAS has its origins in the Flatford Mill Spider Group, formed in 1958 by a small band of enthusiasts lead by David Mackie. By 1963 the expanding group was renamed the British Spider Study Group and at its tenth annual meeting, in 1968, it registered as a charity and became the British Arachnological Society. In May 1999 the BAS celebrated its 40th Anniversary by holding the Annual General Meeting at Flatford Mill. The gathering included two of the original members of the Flatford Mill Spider Group!
The BAS now has over 600 members, about a third of them from overseas. It remains an entirely voluntary organisation with no paid staff. Our work depends on the generosity of donors and grant-givers, our members and our active volunteers.