The venomous spider which is no stranger to Cornwall
While the rest of the country is paralysed by arachnophobia due to reports of an increase in false black widows, experts say they are nothing unusual in Cornwall.
The spiders have been recorded in the westcountry for around 100 years, having arrived from the Canary and Madeiran islands.
Now well established in Devon the species – which is the UK’s most venomous spider – has slowly started to spread across the south and east, leading to the current hysteria in the national press.
Experts at the Natural History Museum say it is likely that in the future the species will spread further north as well.
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This spider has a brown bulbous abdomen with pale markings and the females grow to 15mm. They live in walls, fences and the barks of trees and eat insects, other invertebrates and even other spiders.
However, while the spider is venomous, nobody in the UK has ever died as a result of a bite and the number of reported bites is minimal.
The severity of symptoms from any spider bite depends on the amount of venom that is injected. False widow spider bite reports include symptoms such as chest pains, swelling and tingling of fingers.
Andrew Whitehouse, from charity Buglife, based in Plymouth, said: “False widow spiders are well established n the South West and have been here for a long time.
“Our recent milder winters have allowed spider numbers to increase, and they have increased their range north and eastwards.
“False widow spiders can give a nasty bite, and symptoms can vary depending on the health of the person being bitten, and the amount of venom that has been injected. However, there are no recorded instances of anyone ever dying as a result of being bitten by one of these spiders.
“Spiders will not go out of their way to bite people, they will only bite in self-defence.”