Venomous spiders are invading UK homes

Venomous spiders invading UK homes after mild autumn

A mild autumn has led to a larger number of Britain's most venomous spiders invading our homes.

See also: Footballer bitten by false widow spider as he slept

See also: UK spider bite pensioner to have part of finger amputated


According to the Telegraph, the black widow's cousin, the false widow, are heading into our homes after warmer weather and a successful mating season in October.

How to spot the false widow spider
Unlike its deadly cousin, which is jet black, the false widow is brown with a cream 'skull' image on its back (just to scare us even more).

How dangerous is a false widow spider?
The simple answer is: not very. In general, a false widow spider bite will be reasonably harmless and will feel like a bee sting. Stuart Hine from the Natural History Museum, said: "I always 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." However, on the odd occasion, some people have been known to have adverse reactions to bites. The Telegraph reports how one man, Simon John, had a severe reaction after being bitten by one at a holiday camp in Devon.

He was bitten as he slept in his caravan and, two days after returning home, developed a fever and swelling around the bite mark. An open hole then developed on his leg and the flesh began to rot. Doctors told him that if the bite had been higher and reached his groin, his organs could have shut down.

Where are false widows likely to hide?
These spiders like to be dry and warm so will often sneak into sheds and garages. And, according to the Metro, they're partial to south-facing walls. One woman in Cheltenham this week found one while dusting a lampshade in her home, according to The Sun.

Facts about the false widow spider
The species is native to Madeira and the Canary Islands from where it allegedly spread to Europe, and arrived in England before 1879, perhaps through cargo sent to Torquay.

Females range in size from about 9.5 to 14 mm in size, while males are 7 to 11mm.

Mr Hine suggests that distribution of the false widow is expected to increase northwards in the UK, due to, at least partly, mild winters in recent years.

He adds that you should apply an antihistamine cream to a bite, and visit your GP if weeping blisters or painful swelling develops over a few days.

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World's most venomous spiders
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World's most venomous spiders
Redback spiders are very common in Australia and are closely related to the black widow. These small spiders are responsible for the majority of spider bites in Australia, but they are rarely life-threatening. Only the bite of the female is toxic and possible symptoms include itching, sweating and muscle weakness.
These much-feared spiders live in temperate regions around the world, including the southern states of the USA. They are generally found in woodpiles and outhouses. Bites produce muscle aches, nausea and paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult. Although the bite is potentially fatal, deaths are relatively rare: the spider only bites in self-defence.
There are around 900 species of tarantula, and most are not dangerous to humans. However, some species, particularly those found in India and Africa, are more venomous. 
Native to Florida, USA, the venom of the golden orb weaver is potent but not lethal. It has a similar effect to that of a black widow spider with redness and blistering that usually disappears again within 24 hours. 
The brown widow is native to South Africa. They are highly venomous to their prey but are very timid and rarely bite. When they do, they are unlikely to inject all their venom, but if they do, they cause dull, numbing aches, muscle cramps and abdominal pain.

Found in midwest, south and Southeast USA, the brown recluse is one of the most poisonous house spiders in the USA. It tends to hide in footwear, clothing and beds. Its bite is extremely venomous and causes massive tissue loss and subsequent infection.

Typically found in tropical regions, these brightly coloured spiders have 360 degree eyesight. The spiders are only poisonous to humans if the venom causes a severe allergic reaction.
The female black widow only attack humans when they are provoked. Their bites can cause extreme pain, cramping and nausea. They can be found in the USA, southern Europe, South America and many parts of Africa.
Wolf spiders earned their name because it used to be believed that they hunted in groups. These spiders don't make webs but actively hunt for their prey and can move extremely fast when they are disturbed. Although their venom is poisonous and medical attention is vital, it's not lethal. 
Regarded as the most dangerous spider in the world, Brazilian Wandering spiders are active hunters and can travel great distances. The spider will bite in order to protect itself, but unless startled or aggravated, its bites are 'dry' (without venom). A venomous bite is more likely if the spider is hurt and the bite will result in muscle shock which can kill a human.
The funnel web is one of Australia's deadliest animals, with a venom that is packed with at least 40 different toxic proteins. A bite from a funnel web causes massive electrical overload in the body's nervous system and deaths occur from either heart attack or a pulmonary oedema, where the capillaries around the lungs begin to leak fluid and the patient effectively drowns. Death can come as quickly as two hours after a bite if no medical treatment is sought. Due to advances in anti-venom, there has been no death from a Funnel Web bite in Australia since 1980. 
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