How to identify a false widow spider

Almost one in five Britons suffer from arachnophobia, and luckily for them, there are around 650 species of spider roaming the UK. Unfortunately, spider season in the UK is well and truly upon us, so you may be wondering why these uninvited guests are suddenly all over the house.

Spiders come out in September and October because it is mating season.

The temperature may be one cause of the arachnid influx as they attempt to get out of the cold.

But some may have long gone unnoticed in the darkened corners of the house.

The noble false widow is the most venomous of the three types of false widow species found in and around British homes.

It is believed the spider was first imported to Britain in bunches of bananas from its native homelands of Madeira and the Canary Islands.

The first sighting of a noble false widow was in 1879 in Torquay but the species has since spread across southern England.

Whether you see them as friend or foe – here’s how to recognise the infamous false widow spider and how to avoid it.

What do false widows look like?

Male and female black widows look different.

In all cases, the females are the most distinctive, with shiny globular bodies and are brown in colour.

They are just about larger than a paper clip and can be up to 1.5 inches long.

Males look similar to females, but come in at around two-thirds of the size of their feminine counterparts.

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Where do false widow spiders live?

False widow spiders are found all over the world in temperate climates – and are often found in dark, undisturbed places.

They like to live in garages, hollowed out trees and woodpiles.

False widow spiders build loose and irregular mesh-type webs, often on plants, in loose stone or wood piles or in the corners of rooms, garages or outbuildings.

They do not produce the symmetrical web typical of orb-weaving spiders or the distinctive funnel pattern web of the funnel weaver spiders.

They will only bite if disturbed – so make sure you look where you are going when searching around in your garage.

Is their bite fatal?

Luckily it is not fatal, but is quite the irritant.

A bite does, however, have some unpleasant symptoms – the area around the bite will swell and cause pain, and in worse cases, it can cause sweating and nausea.

The bite will feel like nothing more than a pinprick – and the symptoms come on some hours later and can last for several days.

Are there false widows in the UK?

Unfortunately yes – they are believed to have arrived from the US by boat all the way back in the 1800s – and their reputation has grown ever since.

Black widow spiders are much less common – their venom is less mild for humans and can cause deeply unpleasant symptoms.

Sitings of black widow spiders in the UK are rare – but not unheard of.

How can I get rid of spiders?

There is no foolproof way to stop spiders coming into your house – but many people have tried.

Some on social media suggest a peppermint oil spray around the corners of windows which supposedly deters spiders from entering.

But be careful as this can also be poisonous to household pets.

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