False Widow spiders no more dangerous than kittens says arachnologist
GARDENERS are being urged not to panic after several alleged sightings of Britain’s most dangerous spider in Wells.
Following a series of scare stories in the national press the Journal offices have received several calls from worried Wellensians.
Our sports pundit Merv Colenutt even thought he saw two in his Wells back garden and trapped them in an old pickle jar.
We thought we had better seek some expert advice.
We showed the pictures to Martin Nicholas, a freelance arachnologist (spider expert to you and me), based near Oakhill.
Merv’s spiders turned out to be Araneus diadematus – otherwise known as Garden Orbs – which are not in the least bit dangerous.
Mr Nicholas did spot some False Widows among the pictures sent in – the nearest to Wells being in Frome.
However, Mr Nicholas said that there was noting to worry about and that recent stories in the nationals had been over the top.
“There are False Widows about, in fact they’re relatively common in England.
“They are Britain’s most dangerous spider but that’s like calling a particular type of cat Britain’s most dangerous kitten.
“There are far more dangerous things in the garden – bees and wasps for example.
“If you were bitten by one the effects are likely to be very mild.
“A small itching spot that clears up within a few days, very mild pain at the site of the bite and possibly localised redness or swelling.
“On very rare occasions, in the case of an allergic reaction, the bite can be more painful and swelling will be greater and it is recommended you take medical advice.”
False widows originate from Southern Europe and has been accidentally introduced into the UK probably via imports of fruit of wood.
They are distant cousins of the Black Widow and Mr Nicholas thinks that the name is responsible for giving them their reputation for danger.
“People hear the word widow and think ‘Oh my god, I’m going to die’, but there’s no real danger,” he said.