We have just had false black widow spiders confimed in our home but I have also found them in the shed, outbuildings and even polytunnel, a concerned citizen from South Wales, UK, warns her fellow citizens and continues our local authority have said due to climate change they are everywhere now but wont record it due to negative impact on tourism trade.
I have been told to vacuum and be careful of my children getting bitten. I am angry this is being kept quiet as their bite is painful and they jump at you if disturbed which is how I found them!
Steatoda nobilis, commonly known in England as the biting spider or the false widow, is a common species of spider in the genus Steatoda. As one of this spider’s common name indicates, the spider superficially resembles, and is frequently confused for, the black widow and other venomous spiders in the genus Latrodectus. The spider is native to the Canary Islands but arrived in England in around 1870 through bananas sent to Torquay. In England it has a reputation as one of the few local spider species which is capable of inflicting a painful bite to humans – although this is a comparatively rare occurrence.
According to Stuart Hine, an insect expert at the Natural History Museum, the species is spreading rapidly.
The truth is that Steatoda nobilis is increasing its range and it will become more common unless the UK climate reverts again to more severe winters, which doesn’t seem likely.
The facts are that of 640 UK spider species only 12 are recorded as having bitten humans and they tend to be larger species, Tegenaria spp, Amaurobius spp, Nuctenea umbratica, and native Steatoda, S. grossa in particular. Generally speaking the effects of bites/invenonmations are paltry, though shocking for the victim. But of course each individual reacts slightly differently and some more severely. (Naturenet.net)
Spider bite symptoms
The widow neurotoxin, active against vertebrates, opens cation channels (including calcium channels) presynaptically, causing increased release and then depletion of multiple neurotransmitters affecting somatic and autonomic nerves.
Brown house or false widow spiders – Steatoda grossa in Australia and Steatoda nobilis in the UK, have caused mild neurotoxic arachnidism and, in the case of the former, have been treated successfully with redback antivenom.
- The severity of symptoms from any spider bite depends on the amount of venom that is injected.
- False widow spider bite reports include symptoms such as chest pains, swelling and tingling of fingers.
- A bite from the false black widow delivers enough poison to cause severe pain and inflammation.
- Although rare, some people can have serious allergic reaction to the bite and within seconds they could be gasping for breath and losing consciousness.
- A characteristic feature is pain. Initially the bite can go unnoticed or be perceived as a sharp pinprick. The pain can be local or spread proximally from a bite on the limb to the torso, causing chest or abdominal pain.
- Nonspecific systemic features (nausea, vomiting, headache, lethargy, and malaise).
- Local and regional diaphoresis, and less commonly other autonomic and neurological effects.
- The facies latrodectismica from a widow bite is a painful grimace caused by facial spasm and trismus associated with swollen eyelids, congested conjunctivae, flushing and sweating.
- Full latrodectism may also include tachycardia, hypertension, irritability, psychosis, priapism, renal failure, respiratory compromise and cardiac failure.
- If a spider bite is not considered, the diagnosis may be missed, especially in younger patients where communication is limited.
Fear of false black widow spiders
The story of this spider as the UK’s most dangerous spider was first mass publicized in 2006 by Telegraph.co.uk and was republished in 2008 by Dailymail.co.uk. Mr. Hines words as they appear in those articles were debunked in 2007 at Naturenet.net where he apparently wrote reply and stated what he actually said.
Through my day job, Manager of Insect Information Service (Natural History Museum) I am aware of about 12 confirmed (we have formally identified the spider) cases of S. nobilis bite in the last 8 years (interestingly we never recorded this species as an enquiry pre 1999, and numbers have risen each year since). I have received two this year already, with accompanying spiders. (one enormous female from the Isle of Wight – that was the gardening glove incident and I never warned gardeners to check their gloves and generally begin to panic). In both cases the ‘victim’ (sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it) described a numbness and pain that radiated from finger tip to shoulder and lasted for several hours. However, I am sure that this is as severe as it would get and many people get bitten and barely notice it.
Of course I also explain the great value of spiders and how rare the event of spider bite in the UK actually is. I also always explain that up to 12 people die from wasp/bee stings in the UK each year and we do not panic so much about wasps and bees – but this never makes it past editing.
Still I could go on, they do bite, people have experienced severe-ish reactions, it is generally nothing to worry about and spiders are of great environmental importance and are really rather beautiful and very interesting.
Nest found in Buckinghamshire garden
TheHuffingtonpost.co.uk reported last month that the nest of this venomous spider has been found in a Buckinghamshire garden. Local pest controllers have dealt with the nest, but council officers warned Bletchley residents that there may be more.
The spiders’ bite is not lethal, but is painful, according to local experts. Liam Mooney from Milton Keynes Council told the BBC: “The spiders have larger fangs than other species and venom behind them. The bite is worse than a wasp sting”.
They are known to live in Britain, unlike the actual black widow species. They tend to live along the coastal areas of southern England and in London. The spiders are related to the black widow, but do not have the distinctive red spot on their backs. They make similar “tangle” webs, which are full of eggs. This means that there are likely to be many spiders in the same small area.
Mothers view on the subject of false black widow bites
Our reader continues with this concerning words:
My view as mother is that being informed is paramount to be prepared. If you know the danger to yourself and your children you can avoid it as best as possible, we must have been living with these for many months completely unaware of the potential danger these spiders represent to us all with young children including 10 week old baby sleeping here its a real worry. What if they were bitten? I would not have attributed it to a spider. Until yesterday I had always taught my children that spiders were harmless and frequently scooped them up in my hand to put outside. We need to know that false widow spiders are here in the UK , in our homes, gardens, workplaces and beyond.
Ways to control spiders in your home and workplace
- Remove or reduce trash and rubbage from your home or workplace (eg. woodpiles, boxes, plywood, tires, empty containers, etc.)
- Keep the outside permimeter of the house free from tall grass, weeds or shrubs especially near the foundation.
- Wear protective clothing including gloves and covered shoes when working outdoors
- Always check items that have been stored in the garage or in a shed or outdoors for spiders, webs or sacks before bringing item indoors.
- Keep beds away from the walls
- Don’t store boxes or any items under your bed
- Keep dust ruffles or bed skirts from touching the floor
- Don’t store shoes on the floor or any clothes, towels or other linens (always shake out shoes and clothes before using)
- Store sports equipment like rollerskates, gardening clothes, gloves, ski boots in plastic bags that are tightly sealed with no holes.
- Vacuum under furniture, closets, under heaters, around all baseboards and other areas of the house to eliminate habitat.
- Keep screens on windows and fix or replace screens with holes or that don’t fit snuggly.
- Seal doors with weather stripping and door sweeps
- Seal cracks, access holes for electrical conduits or plumbing
- Remove spider webs and egg sags when found
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