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News Shopper

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

Reported by Alan Woods

Published / News
12 comments

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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