Common pests

False widow spiders

The Noble False Widow Spider is not native to Britain. It is believed it was accidentally introduced over a century ago, possibly in crates of fruit imported from the Canary and Madeira Islands.

In appearance the False Widow has a bulbous abdomen with varying colourations but usually dark brown with lighter brown marbling colours. 

How do they affect me?

They can give a painful bite which has been likened to bee or wasp stings. However bites are rare and usually result from handling the spider roughly or from a spider being trapped between clothing and skin. They are not aggressive, and it is more likely that a bite will be a defensive action, rather than an attack.

The symptoms are usually no more severe than a bee or wasp sting, but a handful of those who have been bitten have described more acute symptoms including throbbing pain, swelling and tingling in the fingers.

If redness, swelling or pain does not subside or there are signs of infection consult your doctor.

It is important to note that the Natural History Museums Identification and Advisory Service has received no more than 30 confirmed reports of noble false widow spider bites over a 16-year period. More information is available on the Natural History Museum website

How to deter them

However, if you would rather not have them in your property, there are a number of ways in which you can deter them: for example, ensuring all doors and windows are draught excluded, vacuuming regularly and removing cobwebs, and minimising the amount of clutter around the property.

If you do see a spider, you can remove it by placing a glass or other receptacle over the top of them, and then sliding a piece of card under the container. Pick it up carefully and release it outside, preferably a little way away from the property if possible.