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Exeter spider expert calms false black widow fears

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 14, 2013

By Mike Byrne

  • A Wasp spider on a conservatory door sent in by P Miles from Exmouth

  • Mr Edworthy, who sells exotic spiders along with snakes and other reptiles at his Tiny Boas shop in East Wonford Hill, Heavitree, said Steatoda grossa had been out and about for decades

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Exeter exotic pet expert Jason Edworthy say people should not be unduly alarmed about increased sightings of false black widow spiders.

And that’s despite Mr Edworthy still bearing the scar of a false black widow bite inflicted three years ago.

The Echo has run a series of pictures from readers showing spiders amid growing concern that the false black widow, named because it only looks like a deadly black widow, is on the increase.

Mr Edworthy, who sells exotic spiders along with snakes and other reptiles at his Tiny Boas shop in East Wonford Hill, Heavitree, said Steatoda grossa had been out and about for decades.

He said: “I am not exactly sure how long they have been in Britain but it is quite a long time, maybe 100 years or more, and they are not particularly unusual.

“In fact I was at a show not so long ago where you could buy them

“There has been a lot of fuss and there do seem to be more of them about just now but they are not overly aggressive.

“You can find them in sheds and similar places. Of course the thing is when spiders give birth its not just one or two but hundreds

“If you can it is best to leave them alone. They can bite and I still have the scar on my leg from where one bit me three years ago.”

Despite that Mr Edworthy is happy handling much bigger spiders than a false black widow.

“We have the Mexican Red -Knee Sopider, the sort you might see in a Hollywood film and you can go right up to the Baboon Spiders, which are quite aggressive to a the Goliath Bird Eating spider which is the biggest there is.

“They can run to a few quid for a baby spider right up to a couple of hundred.”

Spider experts have suggested that there have been more sightings of the spiders as more and more homes are built on their natural habitat. There is alos the impact of warmer summers and milder winters.

The bite is not regarded as life threatening unless people whave a reduced immune system or allergy related to bites or stings .

The false widow is thought to have first arrived in Britain many years ago in crates of fruit from the Canaries.

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

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  • Tracey3001  |  October 14 2013, 3:19PM

    Think the media shouldn't panic/cause a frenzy, but instead get their information correct, and better educate people!! The False Widow (Steatoda ***ilis scientific name) have been here since about 1879. There's been no recorded spider bite deaths in the Uk (I keep a range of spiders myself around 30+ and some would pack a far worse bite than a false widow) but they're not deadly killers. I'd tell people treat it like you would a bumble bee - It can sting you, but won't unless you mess about with it/squish it or in some way make it feel threatened.

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