False widow spiders – some facts

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False widow spiders are back in the news again this year because of the increase in their population and possibility that they might head indoors looking for food and shelter as the mercury starts dipping.

While these spiders aren’t new to the UK, there has been some coverage that puts them in the ‘devilish’ end of the spectrum. False widow spiders have been around in the UK for over 100 years now and according to records, they first arrived in late 1800’s from the Canary Islands in banana boxes. Ever since these crawlies have set-up their homes in the UK.

False WidowThe increase in population of these spiders isn’t a one off event and it happens every time there are favourable weather conditions in the UK. This year, the temperatures have been mild in the summer because of which there has been a noticeable surge in their numbers and as these spiders start looking for mates, food and shelter, they come out in the open and near homes because of which their visibility increases substantially giving a feeling that they are invading our homes.

There have been reports in some sites that these spiders are ‘flesh eating’; however, that’s not the case and while you are unlucky if you get bitten by one of these crawlies, majority of people will suffer symptoms similar to that of a wasp sting. Symptoms could include painful localised swelling but it will not last long.

The bite itself doesn’t cause serious health concerns, but reports of serious cases are mostly because of allergic reaction to the bit or a bacterial infection. There are no reported deaths from this spider’s bite and in many cases the ID of the spider can’t be confirmed.

If you think you have been bitten and get significant swelling, numbness or nausea, seek medical assistance just to be on the safe side. Often the anxiety and panic from thinking you have been bitten can be more dangerous than the bite itself.

So how do you get rid of them? These not so fast moving or aggressive spiders do not bit unless they are provoked or feel threatened. They are mostly seen in and around greenhouses, sheds and homes as they search for warm shelter. In homes they are normally seen near toilets, lofts, closet under stairs, etc. You can always hire pest experts, but it is most likely that some may end up in your house again after some time. If you don’t want to leave a suspected false widow spider in your house, simply remove it in the humane way you would remove any other spider, with a glass and piece of paper.