Irshadgul News report,
If news of the UK’s alarming tick population hasn’t horrified you enough, let me introduce you to the new horror: the false widow spider, which has been dubbed “the UK’s most dangerous”. [spider] species”, apparently thriving in people’s homes.
But how dangerous is it? Well, the creepy-crawly isn’t quite as scary as its Australian cousin, the potentially deadly Black Widow spider. In fact, the false widow’s venom is about 1,000 times weaker than that of its relatives, and no variety of false widow spiders is going to kill you in the UK.
“Although the bite of false widows is venomous, the venom is not particularly potent. Usually the only symptom is pain at the site which may spread far from the bite. It usually lasts between one and 12 hours, and rarely lasts longer than 24 hours,” shares the Natural History Museum.
However, they can leave quite a nasty sting – think of the pain level of a wasp sting. So we thought we’d explain what the false widow spider looks like, and how to avoid getting bitten.
Species look similar to each other
There are six species of false widow spider in Britain. “They are black or brown, chubby and small – up to the size of a small fingernail. The maximum body length of an adult female is 15 mm. However males are more likely to bite, especially when they are searching for mates,” says the Natural History Museum.
“All species have a distinctive set of markings on their abdomens: a narrow white or light stripe across the front of their abdomen toward the head, and other markings that vary by species. However, all these markings can be variable, fade or disappear, especially in adult women.
You can also examine their distinctive webs if you’re not sure about the spider. Keep an eye out for a “criss-cross tangle” which can become quite dense in the middle if left untangled.
Why do false widow spiders emerge late in the year?
According to Bath and North-East Somerset Council, throughout the warmer months, “spiders prefer dark cool places so they are likely to be in sheds, garages, trees and the like.”
They’re likely to be more visible later in the summer and late autumn, as they attempt to leave the cold weather behind and make their way into your nice cozy home, where they have grand plans to hibernate.
Some news reports suggest that their activities may be even more intense during the wet, cold weather we have here.
What if it bites me?
A spider is likely to attack only when it senses danger. “Men have a higher tendency to bite. But this is only because they leave the nest in search of a mate, often going indoors in search of females. The Natural History Museum states that they have only been known to bite when provoked or trapped on the skin.
To avoid getting bitten, your best bet is to ignore the spider. “If you see someone, leave them alone. If it is in a place that requires access, treat it as you would any other unwanted spider or insect and collect [it] in a jar, and put it outside,” suggests Bath and North-East Somerset Council.
If you’ve been bitten, an ice pack should help relieve the pain. Antihistamines can also help reduce swelling.
As with any spider bite, there is a risk of an allergic reaction. Therefore, if the bite causes severe swelling or an ulcer, seek medical attention from your GP or A&E department.