How to spot them.. and what to do if you’re bitten
■■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.
■■There have been a number of alleged incidents where people have had severe reactions and needed hospital treatment.
■■Most bites result in symptoms similar to a bee or wasp sting.
■■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.
■■The false widow is a medium sized spider with a round, brown body and cream coloured markings.
■■Its legs are a reddish-orange colour.
■■Females range in size from 9.5 to 14mm while males are 7 to 11mm.
■■The spider’s body and legs will have a glossy appearance.
■■The species closely resembles the black widow spider, aside from its colouring.
■■The spiders’ bites are no more venomous than a bee or wasp sting, experts have said.
■■The Steatoda nobilis (false widow) spider, native to Madeira and the Canary islands, is believed to have arrived on British shores via a cargo transporter before 1879.
■■It is nocturnal and will normally spend the day sleeping in a crack or hole close to its web.
■■False widows like dry, warm environments where they will be unlikely to be disturbed. This is often what brings them into people’s homes.
■■The spiders are most commonly seen in the south of the country, but reported sightings suggest it’s moving northwards.