Charity allays false widow spider fears

Gazette editor Andy Keeble photographed what is thought to be a lace web spider, which looks similar

Gazette editor Andy Keeble photographed what is thought to be a lace web spider, which looks similar to the noble false-widow, in the back garden of his Barnstaple home this week. - Credit: Archant

Charity says the noble false widow - which has been spotted in North Devon - is ‘notoriously sluggish’.

A CONSERVATION charity has published a new webpage putting to rest growing fears over the danger of noble false widow spiders.

The slow moving arachnid, which has been spotted numerous times around North Devon, has sparked growing interest in recent weeks.

But the charity Buglife said most large spiders which can penetrate human skin in the UK are not inclined to bite a human.

Paul Hetherington, of the charity, said: “The hysteria growing around false widow spiders has fed underlying public fears of arachnids leading to mass misidentification and the persecution of many common house and garden species.

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“We hope that these web pages will help the public to be more at ease with the helpful spiders that are an essential part of our ecosystem.”

The notorious false widow (Steatoda nobilis) does have a more venomous bite than other British species and its bites can cause pain, minor swelling and nausea.

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There are no known cases where a false widow bite has caused death, and the spider is described by the charity as being ‘notoriously sluggish’.

“While an allergic reaction to a spider bite is theoretically possible, this has never been recorded, even in people who are allergic to bee or wasp stings,” said Mr Hetherington.

“There is no proven link between spider bites and bacterial infection and there are still no confirmed cases of serious injury resulting directly from the bite of a native spider in Britain.”

To read more on the false widow, visit Buglife’s web page by clicking here.

Have you seen a false widow spider in North Devon? Email your sightings to, or tweet us @northdevon24.

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