There is firm evidence of False Widow Spiders arriving in Audlem with one killed in a garden in Bagley Lane and another captured. We have also received a report of a resident in the centre of the village being bitten last week whilst gardening and the wound and reaction sound as if a False Widow may have been responsible.
The Bagley Lane resident wonders whether these sightings should be reported to any particular authority as previously these spiders have been seen further south in England and this may be a first report from Cheshire.
The Daily Telegraph reported recently that there have been many sightings recently of the False Widow Spider even forcing a school to close and leaving a grandfather in hospital after a reaction to a bite from one.
Experts believe the increase in the number of sightings of the false widow could be due to changes in the climate, particularly Britain's slow start to the summer followed by a heatwave.
Dr John Tweddle, head of the Angela Marmont Centre at the Natural History Museum, said the species was becoming "more common and more widespread."
He said the spider, which is about the size of a 50p coin, was now quite common in parts of the South East and people were more likely to spot them in autumn because this is when the false widow is grown to full size.
"It is likely that this spread is at least partly a response to a changing climate and as such we're expecting the species to continue to increase its distribution within the UK," said Dr Tweddle.
He said the spider first came to Britain in the 1800s and that "populations have rapidly spread."
There have been sightings of the spider in London, Birmingham, Wales and Norfolk.
Dean Academy in Lydney, Gloucestershire, was closed recently after an infestation of False Widow Spiders at the secondary school. It was shut on advice from health and safety experts so that pest control could fumigate the site.
John Stack and Hannah Green found clusters of the spider in the garden shed, garage and along the guttering of their new home in Bournemouth.
Last year grandfather John Catlin almost had to have his toe amputated after he suffered a reaction to a bite from a False Widow, the Daily Star reported.
Experts say bites from the spider are rare, but the False Widow is one of 12 spiders of the UK's 650 species that can bite, and females can do so if aggravated. There have been no reported deaths from its bite in the UK.
The spiders are shiny and black and have cream markings. They have long legs and can often be confused with a black widow spider.
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