Spiders shut schools
SCHOOLS in London have closed due to an invasion of false black widow spiders.
The four schools, which are within two-and-a-half miles of each other in Newham, east London, were shut on Thursday October 4 so pest controllers can wipe out spider eggs before they hatch.
Pupils will be set work to do at home if temporary sites cannot be found before it is safe for the schools to reopen.
And for anyone worried about getting bitten – the pain is similar to a wasp sting, it is no more dangerous than that.
Headteacher Charlotte Robinson, of Rokeby School, wrote to parents on Wednesday October 3 after making the “difficult decision” to close the whole school until October 29.
In the letter posted on the school site, she said: “We have engaged a company to deal with and eradicate this pest, they have estimated that this will take up to three weeks.
“The safety and wellbeing of students and staff must be our priority so whilst I understand that this may be very inconvenient for you it is in your child’s best interest to remain at home and not at school.”
Is a false widow spider dangerous?
According to the Natural History Museum, the false widow spider does have a venomous bite.
However, the venom is not particularly potent - it feels like a bee or wasp sting.
The pain ordinarily lasts between one and 12 hours, and rarely for more than 24 hours.
Any more serious side effects are most likely to be the result of a secondary infection, likely bacterial, if a bite wound is not kept clean.
It should NOT be confused with a black widow spider, which has a much more dangerous bite.
The three most common false widow spiders are:
■ Rabbit hutch spider
■ Cupboard spider
■ Noble false widow
Lisle Von Buchenroder, principal of Star Primary, closed the school on Tuesday October 2 and says there will be an update next week on when it will reopen.
She said: “An infestation of noble false black widow spiders was discovered during a routine check by Newham’s environmental team.
“They believe that the infestation is contained to the outside of the building and that this needs to be Schools have closed to tackle invasions of false black widow spiders
treated immediately before the eggs start hatching.
“I want to reassure all members of our community that these are precautionary measures and that we are very lucky to have found out in time to take action to remove them.”
She added the school is looking for a temporary site and until then will set work to be done at home.
Lister School headteacher Anthony Wilson said: “The school has been contacted by [Newham Council] to advise us that a number of schools in Newham appear to have infestations of false widow spiders.
“These spiders can bite humans, and the bite is unpleasant, although it is very rarely serious.
“There have been no reports of anyone at Lister being bitten by a false widow spider, if you would like further information on these spiders please check the NHS website.”
A Newham Council spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of a small number of infestations of spiders in Newham. Public Health England have informed us these spiders pose no serious health risk but can cause painful bites similar to a wasp sting.
“These spiders only bite if mishandled or provoked. Four schools have closed at the head teacher’s discretion to treat the infestation which includes fumigation, as these infestations were in a number of locations across the school sites.
“We are working with the schools to ensure that children can continue to receive an education while their school is closed.”
No spider infestations have yet been reported at schools in other parts of the capital, including the GetWestLondon area. The spider can give painful bites but pose no serious health risk