Mystery spider is a false widow
ASPIDER was given to me in a plastic pot which was one of a colony found behind the freezer in a fishing and tackle shop on The Parade in Greatstone. The owner had not seen that type of spider before and was interested in what species it was. The spider was distinct – of medium size, black in colour with a big oval, round, pumpkin-like body and long irregular legs which were deep rusty-brown colour. It looked similar to a black widow spider. A few books later, a couple of photos sent to a spider expert in Kent and then a trip for the spider secured in a jiffy bag in the post, the spider was identified as a false black widow spider. There are around six species of this group, but this particular spider was the first recorded in Kent. It is found in the south west of England and is spreading along the south coast, so it is not an unexpected addition to the spider fauna of Kent. However, as the name suggests it can bite, but only if disturbed and it is equivalent to a mild wasp sting. Remember, it is only the female spider that bites. This spider likes living around buildings and favours dark, but dry corners. The female can live up to five years although the male usually only one year and dies after mating. The female lays around three to four cocoons, with each cocoon containing roughly 200 eggs.
The false black widow spider