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Last updated: Thu 17 Oct 2013

False widow spider bites Nunney woman

A resident of Nunney has spoken of her shock after being bitten by one of the UK’s most dangerous spiders.

False widow spider

False widow spider

Valerie Butland, 46, told the Frome Standard that she was working on her computer at home when she felt a bite in her palm.

It was only days later that she discovered a false widow spider near her computer. She kept the arachnid in a jam jar, but it died.

Experts have since confirmed that the species was indeed a false widow spider, Steatoda nobilis. Spiders found in Beckington at the weekend were also confirmed as false widow spiders.

false widow spider

False widow spiders have featured extensively in the media recently

Recent sightings of false widow spiders, a relatively common species, in Bristol resulted in extensive media coverage.

Mrs Butland told the newspaper that the spider bite had left her with a bright red spot as well as pins and needles.

Although regarded as the most dangerous of UK spiders, false widow spider bites are unlikely to cause serious problems unless a victim has an allergic reaction. If you have an allergic reaction then seek medical help immediately, otherwise symptoms will normally ease within three days.

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

There are 640 species of spider in the UK. Only 12 of these have been known to bite humans in the UK. No one has ever died of a spider bite in the UK and the number of reported bites from spiders in general is minimal.

320447_10151273254167363_264102130_nThe Natural History Museum’s Insect Information Service (IIS) hears of about 10 cases of spider bites each year in the UK.

Dubbed the ‘British Black Widow’, the false widow spider is a non-native species. It is that thought to have arrived in the UK in the 1880s in crates of fruit imported to Portsmouth from the Canary Islands.

It has a brown bulbous abdomen with cream markings that look like a skull. They have long legs and can reach about 15mm in size. Only the female spiders bite. Despite their reputation, the spiders feed on woodlice, flies and smaller spiders. There are estimated to be around 10 million false widow spiders in the UK.

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