Warning over increase in venomous 'false widows' in city

City folk are reporting sightings of false widow spiders being in the home, but how dangerous are they? 

City folk are reporting sightings of false widow spiders being in the home, but how dangerous are they? - Credit: Denise Bradley © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Venomous spiders sneaking into city homes have prompted an increase in call outs to local pest controllers. 

False widow spiders get their names from their far scarier cousins the black widow. 

But just because the false widow - which is found throughout the UK - isn't deadly, that doesn't mean it's harmless. 

Vanna has had false widows in her Norwich garden for nine years, here one can be seen eating a ladybird. 

Vanna has had false widows in her Norwich garden for nine years, here one can be seen eating a ladybird. - Credit: Vanna Bartlett

Across the city this summer increasing numbers of the naturalised species have been reported. 

But Vanna Bartlett, a city-based entomologist and wildlife artist, warned folk not to try and remove the animals without due care.

The author of illustrated invertebrate alphabet 'Arthropedia' said: “False widows get a lot of bad press.  

“These spiders bite and their bites have venom in so they hurt.

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"Very few species of spider in this country are even capable of biting humans in the first place. 

"They would only do so if they felt threatened either by being badly handled or if they got trapped in clothing against skin.”  

Vanna Bartlett, author ofArthropedia - an illustrated alphabet of invertebrates

Vanna Bartlett, author ofArthropedia - an illustrated alphabet of invertebrates - Credit: submitted

She has also had false widows in her own garden for nine years.  

She said: “They don’t appear indoors very often – like nearly all spider species in the UK they don't like living in the dry atmosphere of our centrally-heated homes. 

“In hot weather we all tend to leave our doors and windows open and all sorts of invertebrates including spiders then enter our homes - plus it's been even hotter this summer. 

"If you've got one in your house then my advice would be not to move it. 

"If you have to move it put it in a glass - don't touch it with your bare hands. The only time I've ever been bitten by a spider is when I've been left with no other choice but to handle them."

Legs extended and red hourglass showing, a female black widow spider waits, upside down in a web. A

False widow spiders get their name from the black widow (pictured) which is not native to the UK but is a very venomous and dangerous spider. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

She added the visitors should be a welcome addition to any garden, explaining: "They are great little predators that eat lots of flies, aphids and other insects that could otherwise become pests.” 

She directed concerned folk to Michael Kilner’s summary from the British Arachnological Society.

It reads: "The false widow is the most venomous spider species in the UK.  

“It's bite is painful and can cause some swelling and inflammation around the bite site.  

“However it is still less venomous than the sting of a common wasp.”