Thanet Star

Are these new Kent spiders deadly?

Now here are some immigrants that you can be safely rude about. These eight legged invaders being deeply unpleasant if they bite you.

The False widow as this genus of spiders is mistakenly called has been the subject of a lot of excitement in newspapers where the level of research has been somewhat lacking. This is a spider that if you upset it might give you a nasty nip in the same way a wasp would but they are not deadly but best left alone.

False Widow in Kent

The Express rather exageratedly called them the deadly and most poisons spider in Britain failing to point out that they have yet to kill a single human. Meanwhile This is Kent reported this week that the UK's most venomous spider was spotted in Tonbrdge.

The false widow spiders are sometimes mistaken for the famous black widow. Black widow spiders belong to the Latrodectus genus (false widows being the entire Steatoda genus). Black widows have a nasty bite that can occasionally kill. Black widows are found in a number of places including parts of Europe, America, the Middle East and Australia but they are not found in England. So you are quite safe there.

The false widow is actually the incorrect name given to around 250 spiders of the Steatoda genus. Steatoda nobilis is the one most often spotted and probably the subject of most of the scary news reports of the last few years. Steatoda nobilis (the nobil false widow) is native to Madeira and the Canary Islands from where it spread to Europe arriving in England before 1879 probably in a banana shipment. It has a reputation as one of the few local spider species which is capable of inflicting a painful bite to humans.

Members of the False Window family have been spotted in the Thanet Area.

The truth about false widow spiders page from the Natural History Museum says 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. Last year a man went to hospital for treatment after being bitten by what may have been a false widow spider - the spider was never caught so it wasn't identified.

Last year the BBC reported on the spread of these spiders saying that there are very few instances of these spiders biting people and only do so when antagonised.

The Natural History Museum website says that in the UK a succession of mild winters has increased the survival rate of a number of creatures that would more normally die off in cold winters.

Credits: S. nobilis image and S.grossa imagefrom wikipedia

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