False Widow Spider ‘invasion’: Where are False Widows spreading to? Are they VENOMOUS?

Noble False Widow spiders, have been spotted in the UK, recently found in the north of England, Aberdeen and South Lanarkshire. Scientists predict the spiders will soon reach other parts of the country and potentially pose a risk to native wildlife. The Noble False Widow spider is, as the name suggests, often confused for the Black Widow spider, and belongs to the genus Latrodectus - who possess medically significant venom.

But where are the False Widows spreading to?

Dr Chris Terrell-Nield, a scientist at Nottingham Trent University told Express.co.uk that False Widow spiders have been in the UK for a long time, but tend to appear as the weather warms.

Dr Terrell-Nield said: “False Widow Spiders (Steatoda nobilis) have been in the UK for a long time. The first record is from Torquay in 1879. 

“They occur throughout the year, but mainly in summer. They like warm, dry
habitats, so often come into centrally heated houses. 

“The species is widespread along much of the south coast and established in Essex since at least 1990.

Read More: How to spot false widow spiders: What to do if the spider bites you

False Widow Spiders

False Widow Spiders: The spiders are spreading across the UK say experts (Image: GETTY)

“False widows are clearly spreading, especially in the last 25 years and with warm summers such as 2018 and warm winters such as now, a more northerly and westerly spread is likely.

“Although most records are in an arc south of London, they occur patchily in the South West, East Anglia and the Midlands. There are also individual
accounts from North Wales and Cumbria. 

The most northerly record is from Orkney, although probably transported there, as elsewhere.”

The spider has a brown bulbous abdomen with cream coloured markings which can often look like the shape of a skull.

The False Widow measures from 9.5 to 14mm for females and between seven and 11mm for males, so how do these tiny arachnids spread?

Dr Terrell-Nield says people are probably spreading the spiders across the country without even knowing: “We are probably the most likely agency. They can stow away in goods vehicles and private cars, and transported as plants are moved around the country. 

“Females lay many eggs, and although adults are up to 14mm, juveniles are tiny, so easily missed. Getting to a place is one thing, establishing a population there is more difficult, especially further north.”

The species has a painful bite for humans but should cause no more discomfort than a bee sting says Dr Terrell-Nield.

Of the spiders' danger to humansthe entomologist said: “There have been overstated accounts since for most people this is a new species, and it has more dangerous relatives overseas.

False Widow Spiders

False Widow Spiders: The spiders have white markings on their abdomen which can look like skulls (Image: GETTY)

“All spiders are venomous - this is how they subdue their prey. The false widow’s bite can hurt but usually has no long-lasting effects.

“Reports from those bitten, which feels like a bee sting, describe some pain, which can radiate from the area where bitten, often with some swelling. 

“Some people describe fever and a general feeling of being unwell. These symptoms may last a couple of days but the total effect is unlikely to be more serious than that. 

“Worse outcomes can occur but are likely to be an exceptional reaction of individuals to the venom. It is always advisable to seek medical attention if symptoms persist.”

False Widow Spiders

False Widow Spiders: Whilst their bite is venomous, it will feel like a bee sting (Image: GETTY)

Should you have to get rid of one from your home or vehicle, Dr Terrell-Nield advises: “As with other spiders, you should avoid picking them up (use the glass and coaster method). 

“They may bite to defend themselves, but you are much more likely to damage them.

“Like them or not, all spiders are useful – they consume millions of tonnes of insects.

"They help to control pests, and are themselves a useful food source for other animals.”

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