What is the false widow?
AS the common name indicates, the spider superficially resembles and is frequently confused for the black widow and other spiders in the genus Latrodectus, which can have medically significant venom.
Steatoda nobilis is native to Madeira and the Canary Islands from where it allegedly spread to Europe, and arrived in England before 1879, perhaps through cargo sent to Torquay.
In England it has a reputation as one of the few local spider species which is capable of inflicting a painful bite to humans, with most bites resulting in symptoms similar to a bee or wasp sting. It has also been found in California and Chile.
Steatoda nobilis, false widow, has a brown bulbous abdomen with cream coloured markings that are often likened to the shape of a skull.
The legs are reddish-orange. Females range in size from about 9.5 to 14 mm in size, while males are 7 to 11 mm.
Males are able to produce stridulation sounds during courtship, by scraping 10-12 teeth on the abdomen against a file on the rear of the carapace.
Pictures from Paul Fellows who found a false widow spider