Don't demonise false widow plea as possible sightings continue to pour in
AS dozens of Evening Post readers continue sending us their suspected false widow spider pics, an expert has warned against demonisig the little arachnid.
People tend to do a good job of demonising most spiders, since loads of us are terrified of them.
So when reports emerged of a plague of potentially deadly spiders heading for South Wales - in the form of the false widow, everyone pretty much went to defcon 1.
But there may be no need to panic just yet, according to Dr Sara Goodacre of the faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham.
She advised that caution should be practiced with the outbreak of spider scare stories saying she had yet to see a ‘smoking gun’ to show the false widow was responsible for recent stories of people having bad reactions to alleged spider bites.
But she added: “It can not be overlooked as a culprit.
“Caution should be practiced when discussing the Steatoda genus, which provides many useful functions within the local ecosystem.”
She said it should not be demonised by people.
The term ‘False Widow’ is actually used to describe a number of spiders which are part of the steatoda genus.
The most remarkable of these is the steatoda nobilis, or noble false widow.
The genus has been found in the UK for over 100 years since migrating from the Canary Islands.
Traditionally found in the southern counties such as Dorset, Devon and Kent, warmer temperatures throughout the UK, a combination of increasingly mild winters and rising temperatures have allowed the species to incrementally spread north.
Often mistaken for the more deadly black widow, the false widow tends to vary in size from 10-20mm, approximately the size of a twenty pence piece.
Although there have been no instances of fatalities linked to the false widow, it’s bite is potent and can provoke severe reactions in its victims, though this in known to vary from person to person.
The colloquial name ‘false widow’ comes from its close biological relation to the black widow, and they share some similarities in appearance, yet not geography as the black widow is not found in the UK.
This includes, bristles on the hind legs and what is described as a ‘tangle’ web by the Natural History Museum.
The false widow, however, is noticeable for its brown bulbous abdomen and distinctive white markings there on.
It is typically found in walls, fences and tree bark.
The spider is carnivorous, often eating insects or other spiders.
David Pickering from the Amman Valley believes he found one.
He said: “I was chopping wood this morning and think I stumbled across one of these spiders your story is referring to. Quite small, abdomen looks like a small coffee been, brown in colour with cream dots/line running down the centre.”
You can see some of the pictures sent in by readers in Wales and across the country attached to this article.