False widow spider bite leaves Nunney woman in shock
A WOMAN from Nunney has spoken of her shock at being bitten by what has been confirmed as a false widow spider – the UK's most dangerous arachnid.
Reported sightings of the false widow and various tales of them biting people swept the country over the past week after the national media picked up on a story in Bristol.
Valerie Butland, 46, said she was sat at her computer when she was bitten on her palm and jumped up in shock.
She said: "I believed I had been bitten or stung on my hand, I never saw what it was but it felt very much like a bee sting and as I tend to swell up after being bitten by anything I did start to panic."
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Mrs Butland said the bite was bright red and puffy but there was no apparent side effects from an allergic reaction, though she did have pins and needles.
She said: "I have had a recurring prickly feeling and wonder if it was a spider bite."
Mrs Butland found a false widow spider on Sunday near her computer and captured it in a jam jar as she felt it didn't look like a common house spider.
She was shocked when she looked online and saw what it could be, but her husband wasn't convinced.
Mrs Butland said: "I really had a good examine of it when it was in the jar and it was then that I thought the bite I had could have been from a false widow."
The spider has since died.
Clair and Cheyna Ford, of Beckington, also discovered what they believe to be two false widows in their home over the weekend.
Clair said: "We found the first one on our living room throw on Saturday and the second one was upstairs on our hallway walk on Monday."
The pictures the couple sent to the Frome Standard have been examined and confirmed as false widow spiders.
Spider expert Martin Nicholas, who works as a freelance arachnologist, confirmed that all the spiders found were false widows, known as a Steatoda nobilis, and said they are relatively common.
He said: "There are false widows about, 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.
"The effects of a bite 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 have been accidentally introduced into the UK, probably via imports of fruit or wood."