The False Facts About The False Widow
Are you scared of spiders? You are not alone, research shows that 55% of women and 18% of men admit to also suffering from arachnophobia. Although this term does not just relate to spiders it also includes other arachnids such as daddy long legs or even scorpions! With a whopping 650 different species of spider in the UK the chances of avoiding them completely are pretty slim!
Recently the press has been inundated with reports of terrible wounds inflicted or resulting from spider bites but how genuine is the threat to human health from spiders in the UK?
A 46 year old landscape gardener recently lost his leg to a spider bite and was unaware he had actually been bitten! This was until he was admitted to hospital suffering sepsis and kidney failure and a doctor noticed puncture wounds on his ankle.
Sadly his experience with a false widow spider and the complications that arose from being bitten resulted in his leg being amputated.
How Dangerous Is The False Widow Spider?
More commonly seen in the south of England the false widow or STEATODA Nobilis arrived in Britain around 1879 so is not a recent invader of British homes! Do not panic about the for mentioned report. Out of the 650 species of spider found in the UK less than 12 can actually break your skin.
Recognising The False Widow
They have a distinctive bulbous abdomen and measure approx 20mm and brown bodies. (A real widow spider has a jet black body) with a recognisable cream markings that are almost skull like in appearance this just adds to the fear factor for most! False widows are warmth worshipers and will be drawn to warm sunny south facing areas.
Help! I have been bitten!
Firstly do not panic! Severe reactions such as the example above are rare. Most report symptoms not dissimilar to that of a bee or wasp sting.
There have been no reported deaths associated with False widow spider bites.
False widow spiders are not usually aggressive however it is more likely that you will be bitten by a female spider. Their bite usually presents itself with swelling a burning sensation, fever, nausea, headache, malaise, lethargy and even chest pains. Most complications arise from infection in the wound itself rather from the venom.
False Widow Spiders usually only bite when provoked or threatened. Encounters with them are more likely if they have become caught in clothing or brushed up against.
Treating a spider bite
Usually symptom clear up in a few days however it is recommended that you
Wash the area with soap and water to prevention infection.
Reduce swelling use a cold compress (frozen peas will do!)
Antiseptic, Antihistamines and bite sprays can also help relieve discomfort and help counter any allergic reaction to the venom on the bite itself.
If symptoms persist see a GP.
Spiders are nature’s pest controllers and will help reduce the fly population in your property if left undisturbed.
Prevent them entering your home by filling in any gaps, keeping your hedges around your property trimmed back away from your house. and keep your home tidy and cobweb free. Use a vacuum to remove spiders and their webs and dispose of away from your property.
In conclusion most spiders in the UK are harmless, severe reactions are uncommon and spiders do not intentionally look for humans to bite it is usually unfortunate encounter for both parties!