You may have heard, in recent days, about England’s latest immigration influx. The False Widow Spider is the latest natural epidemic to have hit the country. The cousin of the infamous Black Widow, (a native of tropical regions around the globe) has recently been sighted much more frequently across the country in recent weeks as they swarm into outhouses, homes and many other places to escape the oncoming winter months.
It is one of 120 species which are listed as relations of the black widow. They were first spotted on British shores at the end of the nineteenth century in Cornwall, and are believed to have been accidentally imported from Africa in a shipment of bananas. They have been spotted as far north as Birmingham as well as various other places around Wales and the south. There are thought to be an estimated 10 million of the creatures in Britain, most of which will be coming into closer contact with humans throughout winter.
They are recognised by their white markings on their backs; markings that have been likened by many to a skull. This is an appropriate symbol for the arachnids, which have been labelled as ‘Britain’s most poisonous spider’.
Bites from the false widow have various effects on the victims, but it has been confirmed that they are indeed fatal unless medical treatment is quickly received. Those who have allergic reactions to the bites face a much higher likelihood of death. Symptoms include chest pains, difficulty breathing and swelling around the wound. Despite this, some people have found they are able to simply sit out the experience without seeking and professional help, but this is not advised. So far, no one has actually been killed, however. There have been numerous cases of serious injury caused by the false widow, many of which have had big impacts on the victims. One of these incidents caused a decorator, to nearly lose a leg. Ricki Whitmore was working at a school when he came into contact with the spider. Whitmore, went to hospital where he found out that there was so much poison in his system, his leg could’ve been amputated. Steve Harris, was also affected by the widow, the bite was inflicted whilst Harris, who is a semi-professional footballer, was sleeping. He had to have the poisoned skin cut of by doctors, which has prevented him to play football in the near future.
But for all the bad press that is being given to the creatures, it would be wrong to call them vicious, as they seemingly only attack when trapped or threatened. Still, it is advised to be cautious if you suspect an encounter.