We aren’t talking about marriage and deaths here, that would be a little dramatic, but it is hard not to notice that these little spiders seem to be gaining a bit of publicity in the UK at the moment. BBC reported that 7 schools have been closed in London due infestations of false widow spiders.
Difference between a false widow and a black widow spider
The false widow has some similarities to its more famous cousin, the black widow spider, but is clearly identifiable as it has cream markings on its abdomen (rather than red), and its legs and body are a browny-orange colour (rather than black). While the infamous black widow spider has not reached our shores, the false widow spider was accidentally imported to the UK about 150 years ago and they are adapting to our temperate climate, with increased sightings across the country.
How to spot a false widow spider
- They grow to about the size of a 50 pence coin, 7-15mm in length with a leg span of about 35mm
- The body is quite bulbous, and has a smattering of cream on top
- The cream smattering can sometimes resemble a skull, but this can vary
- Leg and body colour is a browny-orange
The false widow spider is nocturnal, meaning it rarely ventures out during the day, and prefers to be hidden away in cracks close to its web. Generally they are solitary, preferring a dry warm environment where they will not be disturbed.
Do false widow spiders bite?
The Steatoda Nobilis have been known to become more visible during autumn as the weather gets colder, but the likelihood is that they have been hiding in the dark corners of your house all year round.
They can bite if squeezed or accidentally provoked but this is rare and their bite usually only causes a temporary pain (of similar intensity to a wasp or bee sting) and swelling.
Like all spiders, they have a very important role to play in our ecosystem, and will help to rid your home and garden of unwanted flying pests. If you do spot one inside your home, you should carefully trap it using a glass and piece card and move it outside.
As with most pests, the best way to control spiders is to limit their food source. This includes clearing away any dead flies, or any other small, crawling insects. Rentokil Pest Control does offer a false widow spider removal service, where human health and safety is paramount.