Britain’s most dangerous spider, the noble false widow (Steatoda nobilis) has been recently sighted in Lewisham. It’s population is drastically increasing and spreading towards the north of the UK with a sudden surge in London and Kent.
There have been numerous bite cases, but no deaths have been recorded in the UK so far.
Hannah Cornish, Identification and Advisory Officer at the Natural History Museum said: “Two species of false widows have been reported to bite humans in the UK, and Steatoda nobilis has the nastier bite.
“However, it is only about as painful as a bee or wasp sting and the spider itself is not particularly aggressive. It will only bite if roughly handled or trapped against the skin by clothing.”
It could cause a threat in the future though as the increase in temperature provides a better breeding condition for the false widow spider.
The increase in the number of these arachnids increases the odds that a person with an allergy could be bitten, which could cause a fatal anaphylactic shock.
“Some people do have allergic reactions to spider bites. Symptoms include swelling around the bite and flu-like symptoms. We always advise people to visit their doctor if they are worried about a bite,” she added.
The spiders are identifiable by a white skull like marking on the back and are usually a maximum of 7mm in body length.
Closely resembling the notorious black widow, the false widow has been around in England for approximately 100 years. The spiders are thought to have arrived here on bananas imported to Torquay from the Canary Islands. It was first spotted in 1879.