Look what I found in the shed at the weekend!
My children are distraught. My wife says she won’t sleep tonight. And I’m thrilled to bits! It’s Britain’s most venomous spider and we’ve got one living in the shed!
Or maybe there’s more than one! Wah-hah-hah…
Steatoda Nobilis. The ‘Noble False Widow’ spider.
First recorded in Torbay in 1879, it’s not a native to our shores and probably arrived from Madeira or the Canary Islands in a box of Victorian fruit. For the next 100 years or so it lived quietly on the South Coast – but it’s now on the move! It’s enjoying our mild winters and can now be seen as far ‘north’ as Wales and Lincolnshire.
The species has a fearsome reputation as one of the few British spiders capable of inflicting a painful bite to humans — but is there really anything to be afraid of? Well ‘yes’ you do need to be cautious. The bite is painful (apparently) but no worse than a wasp or bee sting.
There has been some hysteria in the press about False Widows:
- False widow spider infestation closes two London primary schools
- False widow bite left grandfather fighting for life in hospital
- False widow spider bites footballer Steve Harris
Most bites result in symptoms similar to a bee or wasp sting. False Widows are not normally aggressive towards humans and bites are rare, but if the spiders are caught in clothing, prodded or squashed they may bite. Incidentally the females bites are more severe than the males and typically result in intense pain and a fever. If you plan to get bitten by a False Widow I’d definitely recommend a bite from the male…
On a positive note there have been no reported deaths from False Widows. Yet.