False widow spiders: Seven facts you did not know about the deadly spider

by Alan Woods Updated on in News

SINCE first reporting last month how the deadly false widow spider had been spotted in Thamesmead, News Shopper has received more than 50 sightings.

Last week we reported about Blackfen tattooist Alex Michael, whose hand went black and yellow after he was bitten by one of the beasts as he slept in Sidcup.

News Shopper: Alex Michael.

We previously spoke with 29-year-old Paul Lakeman, who woke up at his Thamesmead home to find the creature crawling through his hair as he lay in bed.

But we have now heard from readers from all across News Shopper Land who have spotted the spider in their gardens or found one in their homes.

The sightings stretch from Gravesend to Greenhithe and from Orpington to Welling.

But how much do you know about the false widow spider?

After speaking with Natural History Museum spider expert Stuart Hine, here are seven false widow facts you probably did not know.

1. The false widow spider is one of just three or four spider species that can survive in homes by catching enough food.

2. Females live for three years whilst male false widows only live for a year. Both bite.

3. You are most likely to find a false widow in your home if you live in a first-floor flat because the spiders prefer living higher up.

4. A favourite home for the false widow spider is the niche at the top of a conservatory or a greenhouse because of the trapped heat.

5. The spiders spread when they are young, as they get blown across the country in the wind. First arriving in Torquay, Devon, in the early 1900s, they have since been blown to south London and Kent and are now being spotted in areas further north including Ipswich and Norwich.

6. You’re most likely to see the false widow at night time, as they tend to hide during the day. Their favourite hanging position is upside down in their web.

7. The UK transport network has also played its part in the distribution of false widows, as they often make their webs on outdoor furniture, sheds and fence panels that are then moved from a distribution centre to shops. There has been a spate of sightings in Leicestershire near where the M1 and M6 meet, as there are large pallet yards in the area.

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Comments

6:51pm Fri 20 Sep 13 Gypo.Joe says…

I would be up for getting bit by a rich old wider if she made it worth me while. Anything fer a pound note boi.

  • Score: -8

1:57pm Sat 21 Sep 13 oldblackfener says…

Interesting that this ‘deadly spider’ arrived in the UK ‘in the early 1900s’. How many victims has it claimed over this time?

  • Score: 19

11:09am Sun 22 Sep 13 Slonik says…

It's odd how the most important 'FACT' concerning this 'deadly' spider has again been omitted from the list - it's NOT deadly! According to the Natural History Museum website, nobody has ever died in the UK as a result of being bitten by one of these spiders. Far more people die as a result of bee stings yet I don't see NS reporters trying to generate hysteria by claiming they're deadly. This really is very poor journalism.

  • Score: 52

3:05pm Sun 22 Sep 13 Joelo says…

Why do we need to keep hearing about these god dam spiders?

  • Score: 20

10:08am Tue 24 Sep 13 oldblackfener says…

Slonik wrote…

It's odd how the most important 'FACT' concerning this 'deadly' spider has again been omitted from the list - it's NOT deadly! According to the Natural History Museum website, nobody has ever died in the UK as a result of being bitten by one of these spiders. Far more people die as a result of bee stings yet I don't see NS reporters trying to generate hysteria by claiming they're deadly. This really is very poor journalism.

Are the facts in the rest of NS articles as ‘deadly’ accurate?

  • Score: 6

3:08pm Thu 26 Sep 13 oscariah says…

my sons caught one yesterday, it was spinning a web on my bedroom door frame. they got a glass & piece of paper & released it outside the house. we are in southampton.

  • Score: 1

8:00pm Sat 28 Sep 13 tridant says…

This article is very bad and misleading. It is irresponsible to say this spider is deadly, and could cause mass panic. When you look it up on the internet, this spiders bite is medically important yes, but not deadly. It says it is far less harmfull than a black widow! But can cause pain and swelling!

  • Score: 7

6:25pm Sun 29 Sep 13 JaySteel says…

I've been catching and photographing these spiders recently and at no point did they show any aggression at all despite being pulled about and repositioned for my photographs. They've been in the UK for around 100 years now and only a small number of people have been unlucky enough to have been bitten by one, and they've all lived to tell the tale!

  • Score: 6

6:21pm Fri 4 Oct 13 gravesend mum says…

I was bitten twice by the same false widow spider (before killing it) when we lived in Blackfen back in 2010, I'm still here to tell the tale. This story has made things seem very dramatic when in fact there is no need for it. Yes it bloody hurt and yes I ended up with a trip to A&E but it didn't kill me. I just have even more of a fear of spiders and articles like this don't help especially when they are misleading.

  • Score: 3

1:28pm Mon 7 Oct 13 Lynnemhurst says…

I am wondering if they hibernate I have one in my greenhouse also is it likely to breed while in there

  • Score: 0

1:28pm Mon 7 Oct 13 Lynnemhurst says…

I am wondering if they hibernate I have one in my greenhouse also is it likely to breed while in there

  • Score: 0

11:53am Sat 12 Oct 13 Witchkid says…

Lynnemhurst wrote…

I am wondering if they hibernate I have one in my greenhouse also is it likely to breed while in there

They've been in my greenhouse for years without causing a problem, in fact last year I rescued one from the cold and put it in there! Best not to leave gardening gloves in the greenhouse in case one crawls inside to keep warm. I suggest you read this article from the Red Cross to allay your fears..... http://blogs.redcros s.org.uk/first-aid/2 013/10/non-attack-of -the-false-widow-spi ders/

  • Score: -1
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