Plymouth pest control officer urges killing false widow spiders
A PEST control expert has said people do not need to panic if they find a false widow spider – they just need to kill it.
Graham Blackett, pest control officer for Plymouth City Council, has said that while false widows are becoming more common in the region, people are more likely to find a cellar spider or rabbit hutch spider, which often look similar to their more feared relatives.
Gardeners across the region have started to notice the rise of the so-called false widow spiders, the cousin of the deadly black widow.
Warmer temperatures mean the venomous arachnids, by far the most poisonous spider on our shores, are breeding faster than ever before, and gardens are currently playing host to the spiders' tiny offspring.
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"Quite a lot of the time we get people sending us pictures of what they believe to be a false widow spider, but there are a few species which are very similar so we tend to see more of the rabbit hutch spider and the cellar spider," said Mr Blackett.
"But if people think they've found a false widow they don't need to panic. If it's concerning you then just kill it.
"They can bite you, but they don't hide under the toilet seat waiting to bite."
The spiders, which can have a distinctive "white skull" mark on their backs, will only bite if they feel threatened. Although most people will only suffer localised pain and swelling, the bite may trigger in some an extreme allergic reaction – anaphylactic shock – which could prove fatal.
Colin Northcott, curator of animals at Dartmoor Zoo, told The Herald last week that if people find a false widow they should avoid touching it.