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Scores Of Suspected False Widows Spotted In Barnsley

Thursday October 10 2013


Dan Coulter's sighting Dan Coulter's sighting


SCORES of suspected false widow spiders have been spotted throughout the borough this week - but an arachnid expert has appealed for people to stop exterminating spiders because of misplaced fears.

Shafton's Katy Pugh was the first to bring the spider to our attention on Monday after spotting what she thought was a false widow in her garden. Since we put the photo on our Facebook page, we've been inundated with images.

The false widow spider, Britain's most venomous, is spreading across the UK.

There has been an increase in the number of sightings of the species - and more reports of people being bitten.

Conservationists believe that changes in the climate could be encouraging the spider to make itself at home in new areas.

However, an arachnid expert has appealed for people to stop exterminating spiders because of misplaced fears.

"There are 650 different types of spiders in the country," said Greg Hitchock, a member of the British Arachnological Society. "Identifying them off the internet as everybody is doing is not helpful.

"False widows are fairly hairless, although they do look very much like black widows in that they're very dark.

"They have a pattern on their abdomen described as looking like a skull, but that’s a story which has gone along with its ‘deadly’ reputation.

"Lots of people said they have been absolutely sure that the spiders they've seen are false widows, but they’re not at all. It’s not that straight forward."

The expert also said that false widows - a relative of the deadly black widow - are not 'deadly', stating that no one in the UK has ever died from a spider bite, let alone one by a false widow.

The false widow spider first came to the UK over 100 years ago in crates of fruit from the Canary Islands. It's been established in Devon for a long time but recently climate change has caused the population to spread.

The false widow can be recognised by its glossy body, its bulbous abdomen, its pale skull-like markings and an almost creamy colour belt around its front.

The female false widow’s body usually measures around 15mm. The male is smaller at 7-10mm and usually even less aggressive than the female.

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Reply Posted by scared of spiders on Thursday October 10 2013 at 10:14
the bloody migrants now the spiders,wish there would all go home,,LOL

Reply Posted by me on Thursday October 10 2013 at 13:07
What a stupid thing to say..i hope you get run over

Reply Posted by Just google it on Thursday October 10 2013 at 13:21
This is getting out of hand - most of these sightings are NOT false widows. Of the photos above, Steph Rhodes', Natasha Smith's and Danny Wag's spiders are common European Garden Spiders and completely harmless. Only Dan Coulter's is a false widow (and maybe Joanne Wood's) - completely different body shape, and smooth, not slightly 'furry' like the garden spider.
WAB - you should get the facts straight before frightening people, and not publish photos that are incorrect.

Reply Posted by Gaynor on Thursday October 10 2013 at 15:17
I'm not usually a spider slayer, I am happy to share my home with these arachnids during winter but im more nervous now after all these reports. I wouldn't want my children getting bit by a false widow. Id never forgive myself!! Eeeek :(

Reply Posted by Wayne on Thursday October 10 2013 at 20:18
Uuuurgh...horrible things, nothing a size 8 boot won't cure. These things are getting bigger and bigger each year.

Reply Posted by clee on Thursday October 10 2013 at 22:00
wish all these stories about spiders were contained on a page of its own,,instead of facebook,,publicly,,,,terrified of even looking at them,,,never mind talking about them,,,shaking now even thinking about them,,,,time someone invented a proper spray,,,as they do for evrything else,,,so come on boffins.

Reply Posted by LOL on Friday October 11 2013 at 05:58
LOVELY WITH PEPPER AND VINEGAR.

Reply Posted by Elisa on Friday October 11 2013 at 07:51
I own a tarantula and basically if you leave them alone they will leave you alone! People shunt try catching them or taking pics. If u find 1 glass jar an piece of paper an get it out of house nothing else lol

Reply Posted by Peter H on Friday October 11 2013 at 08:25
Common sense Elisa, wish more folks in Barnsley had a share

Reply Posted by Danni on Friday October 11 2013 at 08:14
Kill them all

Reply Posted by von on Friday October 11 2013 at 08:40
False widow or not, any spider that comes within 10 feet of me gets killed. I can't stand the bloody creepy, horrible little things. SIMPLES !!!!!

Reply Posted by little grebe on Friday October 11 2013 at 08:55
Seriously people trying educating yourself on what this creature is capable of to a human. Also recognise the fact that without spiders then your homes would be over run by insects.

Reply Posted by dannyboy on Friday October 11 2013 at 09:49
Its the same on fb, delivering panic among the ill-informed. They've been living with slightly poisonous arthropods for years down south with no deleterious effect on the human population. The false widow is unlikely to survive our winters up north, but hey they are moving north so lets all flee from these spider overlords! if anything the movement north of species such as this is fanatastix example of climate change. Shhh don't tell people about adders here in Yorkshire...

Reply Posted by clee on Friday October 11 2013 at 14:14
sgain in the papers today,,,spiders,spiders,spiders,,,,,,what next,,,,,terminate the lot of them if you see one,,,i do,,,and no-one will ever change my mind,,,,when some-one has a phobia about them,,,,not their fault,,,dont say its all in the mind ,because it is NOT,,,,i know some-one that has fits when HE,,,not she,,sees them,,,,i feel for them,,,terrified of them,,,,end of.

Reply Posted by little grebe on Friday October 11 2013 at 15:24
I would reply to your comment clee but I haven't got a clue what you have just said

Reply Posted by jack on Friday October 11 2013 at 18:35
You are over 1000 times bigger than the spider so why be frightened. Thank you for the comments about Adders, Dannyboy. I had an Adder once but it got killed by a wild Rattlesnake in my back garden here in Kendray.

Reply Posted by clee on Saturday October 12 2013 at 15:39
little grebe,,,if you cannot understand plain ENGLISH,,,then please do not comment,,,,keep them to your self.....if some-one is scared of SPIDERS so be it,,,its a phobia for gods sake.

Reply Posted by Katie on Saturday October 12 2013 at 20:29
People are saying they only bite when they feel threatened?!?! Maybe they should stop getting in people's beds! Not our fault if we roll over on them! That painter n decorator that had his leg cut open because of one of these spiders, he just moved it out of the way n it still bit him! I will be killing any spider that comes
Into my house!!

Reply Posted by domnic on Thursday October 24 2013 at 10:41
when people say they only bite you when they feal thretand if a lie because my brother got bit when he was just walking past