The truth behind false widow spiders

False widow spiders are amongst the UK’s most venomous. Their population numbers have recently been reported on the rise and scientists attribute this to the phenomenon of global warming. Find out how to distinguish false widow spiders from the common house spiders. We also explain the symptoms and first aid treatment when bitten by these hairy creatures.

What to do

Global warming and rising temperatures are to be blamed for the rise of sightings of false widow spiders in the UK according to scientists and conservationists.

  • Origin

False widow spiders belong to the same family as the black widow spiders. The good news is, they are not as toxic as their cousins. However, a bite from these hairy creatures is one of the most venomous and false widow spiders or Steatoda Nobilis are listed as some of the 12 species of dangerous spiders in the UK.

They were brought through fruit crates coming from the Canary Islands to the UK and the first sighting of the false widow spiders were made in 1879 in Torquay.

  • How it looks like

False widow spiders are very distinct because they have a shiny and black body the size of a 50p. These creatures have bulbous backs, thick legs and skull-like patterns on their backs.

  • Do they bite?

Spider experts say these creatures only bite if they are threatened.

  • Symptoms

If for some reason, a false widow spider managed to crawl into your bedroom and bit you, you should be able to see a mark on your body parts. Burning and tingling sensation, swelling, pain, chest pain and nausea may be part of the symptoms. If untreated, you can even lose consciousness and go into shock.

  • Treatment

Paracetamol and anti-histamines are the common medications given to people who are bitten by the false widow spiders. Make sure to keep the infected area clean and if symptoms worsen, consult a doctor. Penicillin either by injection or the oral route is prescribed to people who suffer from the adverse effects of the bite.

The truth is there are no recorded deaths because of bites from false widow spiders. The only real danger to them is when you have an allergy to the venom which can lead to complications. However, chances of being bitten are low as these spiders tend not to stray too far from their webs. They are also mostly active at night and prefer barns, sheds and garages.

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