Spiders in England - level 3

Spiders in England - level 3

21-10-2013 14:00

They’ve been slowly spreading around the country for the last few years, and as this amateur footage proves, one could easily turn up in your bath.

This is reportedly one of Britain’s most venomous spiders, the false widow, so called because they look a bit like their distant cousin, the infamous black widow. Recent bites have left children hospitalised and a man with a reaction so severe, he nearly lost his leg.

But what are these spiders and should we really be worried? Well, everything has to be put in perspective. There are well over 600 species of spider in the UK and only a dozen of them have been known to bite people. The noble false widow is one of them. The female’s bite can be harmful, as some people can have an allergic reaction to the venom, while others simply suffer bee sting-like symptoms. The symptoms depend on how much venom is injected, and they include things like chest pains, pus-filled blisters and swelling. Males don’t actually bite, and females only do if they feel threatened.

However, unlike its distant cousin, the black widow, false widows are not really deadly, as no one in the UK has ever died from one of their bites. It’s probably true that they are spreading from the south east, due to climate change, and recently there were reported sightings as far north as Yorkshire. But it is very easy to misidentify false widows, especially if you’re simply looking at pictures on the internet. A lot of spiders do look quite similar. Experts say that if you’re certain there’s one in your house, you should remove it safely in a humane way.

Difficult words: reportedly (some people say it), venomous (poisonous), severe (very serious), species (kind of animal), pus (yellowish liquid produced in an infected part of your body), blister (swelling with pus inside), swelling (area of your body that has become larger because of illness or injury), threaten (want to hurt somebody).

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