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The most dangerous spider in Britain found in a Formby home

A false Widow Spider was found in a Formby home on Tuesday 24th January. The spider didn't look like anything the family had seen before. The brother and sister who found it said: "We were cleaning out the games room and moved the settee when we noticed It. It was actually swinging from a strand of its web! We did not recognise it as a normal house spider so we googled it!"

They went on to say: "We were shocked to see the resemblance of a Black Widow Spider, which is the second most deadly spider in the world! We needed help! We got a glass and piece of paper and caught it. We left a dictionary on top of the glass, just in case it tried to escape! At one point, trying to take photos, we knocked the glass and it fell over, we all ran! Luckily, the spider stayed still."

The family called the 'Bug House' in the Liverpool Museum and asked their opinion as to exactly what type of spider it was. They emailed a photo over and within the hour, the museum had emailed back to say that it did resemble the deadly Black Widow spider and could they bring it in for further investigation.

The next day, the family took it along (Very securely inside a jam jar with holes in it) to the museum to have a look.

A spokesman for the museum said: "It is definitely what is known as a 'False Widow' spider, real name being Steatoda Grossa."

The most shocking part of this story is when the spokesman said: "The Spider is pregnant and about to have hundreds of babies!"

He went on to say: "The babies are the size of a full stop and they have hundreds at a time. They can bite but are not as scary as previously seen in news stories and in fact are becoming more and more common in the north west."

He then offered to keep it in the museum where it would have a good home and any school children would be able to have a look at it and possibly even hold it. The family agreed it would have a much better life at the museum with all it's babies!

This is another photo of the spider caught in the Formby home but from a different angle, in this photo, it looks more black than in the top photo.

The False Widow spider is the ‘most dangerous spider in Britain’. What this means in reality is, it has a bite about as serious as a wasp sting. The false widow bite may result in a mild systemic condition known as steatodism. Symptoms include general malaise, muscle pain, cramps and in rare cases palpitations.The females bites are more severe than the males and typically result in intense pain radiating from the bite, along with fever.

There have been no reported deaths in the UK resulting from false widow spider bites, but, there have been a number of alleged incidents where people have had severe reactions and required hospital treatment.If you are bitten by the spider, the first thing to do is wash the area with soap and water. A bite spray or antiseptic cream will also help to prevent infection. If your condition deteriorates seek professional medical help.

False widows get their name because they look similar to the potentially lethal black widow spiders. They are actually related. The false widow spider is not deadly. The venom of the black widow spider is over 1,000 times more powerful than that of the false widow.

The females can produce three or more egg sacs or cocoons each one containing 200 or more cream-coloured eggs.

The false widow is a medium sized spider, approximately the size of a 50 pence piece. The body ranges from around 7mm to 15mm in length and the leg span reaches up to 35mm.

The body and legs have a glossy appearance. The thorax and legs are a dark / orangey brown colour, unlike the pitch black of the true widow spiders. The abdomen is fairly bulbous with cream patterning on top. It is said that these markings resemble a skull in S. nobilis.

False widows are largely nocturnal, spending the day hidden away in a deep crack or hole adjoining its web. False Widows like dry, relatively warm environments where they are not likely to be disturbed. This inevitably brings them indoors and they are most often seen in sheds or outbuildings. Interestingly, these spiders seem to have a preference for south facing walls. The web is an irregular tangle of fine, sticky silk fibres of high strength. The spider will spend its evenings upside down in this web.

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