Yesterday, I talked a bit some of the research I did for THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, specifically about the tarantula. However, I learned about other kinds of spiders, too, in the course of researching my book about a hero who thinks spiders are just the coolest things ever.
For instance, there's the Tegenaria parietina, also known as the cardinal spider. Apparently they were quite common at Hampton Court Palace, and as our hero mentions, rumor has it that Cardinal Wolsey was particularly frightened of them. This type of spider appears in the first scene of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, with interesting results for our hero and heroine, whose reaction is considerably less enthused.
I had to know about dangerous spiders. It turns out the worst, in terms of danger to humans, is the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria nigriventer). And in one of those coincidences research can sometimes yield, it turns out that one of the effects of the spider's venom, should it not kill you, is priapism (note the origin of the name - there's a Greek myth you don't hear about very often!), which could lead to impotence, a particularly suitable punishment for the villain.
Some of the other spiders mentioned in THE VISCOUNT'S KISS are the Meta menardi (cave spider), Argiope bruennichi (wasp spider) and Araneus diadematus (garden spider).
If you'd like to know more about British spiders, here's a link to the British Arachnological Society. If it had been around in the Regency, the hero of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS would have been a charter member!