Bookmark and Share

Flesh-eating Spiders Coming to a House Near You!

Identify It >   Spiders Section >   Flesh-eating Spiders Coming to a House Near You! >

Steatoda nobilis by Kate Maxted

That was one of the headlines of the Daily Star recently, with a story about False Widow spiders.  The Mirror and Daily Mail also ran similar stories.  Clearly there just wasn't enough bad news to go round this week.

The story in the Star began "Deadly spiders rampaging through the UK are moving indoors to escape the cold snap - and eating us alive."

Tabloids eh.  You gotta love 'em.  I'm trying to imagine a spider roughly 8mm long "rampaging" through the UK eating people alive.  Oh yes, I think I can hear the rumble of their approach.  No wait.  That was just a train load of bullshine passing by.

Sadly though, judging by the number of emails I've received about False widows this week some folk have been bitten (heh heh) by all this scare mongering bullshine.

"My friend believes she was bitten by a false widow, she was very ill and even went to A&E, and wants to know what's best to clear them out of her storage area."

"This is a False Widow (photo attached), very poisonous but not deadly, this particular one I found in my flat, I didn't know what it was at the time but my experience with other spiders world-wide instilled in me an instant dis-trust. I'm glad I was careful.  A report in the press this week says there has been a sharp increase in the amount of False Widow bites in the south of England this year.  Take care."

"Is this a false widow?  I found it outside my shed in Mitcham, Surrey.  My daughter found 3 of these inside her house last week, exactly the same skull like marking on the back and cream rim around the body.  Are they as dangerous as they are being made out to be?"

Yes these spiders can bite, and yes, it can be painful.  But let's look at the facts.  False Widows have been in the UK for over a hundred years.  If they're such a threat to human life then our hospitals should have developed a strategy for dealing with them, right?  Supplies of antivenom perhaps?

Well no.

Most of the "victims" of these "deadly flesh-eating monsters" have been sent home from hospital with a dose of anti-histamine and a paracetamol tablet.

Hmm... does that sound life threatening to you?

The stories in the press have been exaggerated to the extreme.  I have found three different species of False Widow spider in my home here in Gloucestershire.  All my neighbours have the same.  We all have young children who encounter these spiders from time to time.  Not one of us... that's NOT ONE OF US, has had a problem with them.

The clue is in the name.  They're FALSE widows and not REAL widows.

The only folk who seem to have a problem with False Widows (apart from some members of the press) are people who have suffered a bad allergic reaction, in the way that some people have a bad reaction to bee stings or politicians.

(posted October 2013)

Related Pages

free newsletter