False Widow Spider; not reported in Stroud yet

Posted on 21. Oct, 2013 by in Environment & Nature, Featured

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Cotswold TV have made this update re the False Widow spider with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. This is what they write below about finds in Gloucestershire – it is yet to be reported in the Five Valleys. Update: latest reports indicate a poss spider found in Stonehouse.

‘False Widow’ spider Bulletin
Having been called killer, flesh eater, toxic, dangerous and poisonous in recent tabloid headlines The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust thought it was time to do a little mythbusting about the false widow spider. Despite recent headlines in national press this spider has been around since the 1800’s thought to have come across to the UK with bananas from the Canary Islands. Since this time the spider, s.nobilis, has become resident in the South of England and is now considered to be successfully established, and breeding.

The first record here in Gloucestershire was from a shed at Northway, Tewkesbury in June 2007. Since then, records are from Longney 2008 and now in September and October 2013, two records from Gloucester, one from the housing of an external light and the other photographed on a window sill.” The false widow can pierce the skin and inject venom, however, reports of killer spiders should be taken with a pinch of salt as there are no reported deaths as the result of this spider’s bite. False widow spiders are not aggressive or quick moving, and live a quiet existence without straying far from their webs. As with bees, the false widow spider will only bite if protecting itself, for example if you put your hand directly through their web or inadvertently sit or lie on one.

The bite can cause a painful sensation and localised swelling, but there is no lasting damage. Just as with bee or wasp stings (or indeed peanuts!) some people may have an allergic reaction to it, and as with any injury it could become infected if not kept clean. As with other injuries, bites or stings, the very young or elderly are more vulnerable, and if severe swelling or ulceration occurs a visit to your GP or A&E is recommended. When compared with bee or wasp stings the risk of a bite is very low. Unfortunately it is often difficult to determine the actual cause of any bite as in many cases the culprit is not seen or identified.

At this time of year, spiders are on the search for a mate, so you’ll notice more spiders in gardens and sheds and even some large hairy house spiders scuttling under sofas. Just remember, although the false widow has been reported in Gloucestershire their numbers are still low so the spiders you see are unlikely to be this particular species. As with any eight legged unwelcome guest, the easiest way to remove it is with a glass and piece of card, then safely pop the spider outside. If you want help with identification of a spider which you believe might be the false widow then take some pictures and contact Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, your ultimate resource for everything great about the wild here in the Cotswolds.

About Philip

Director and Co-Founder of Stroud Community TV

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