The truth about Steatoda nobilis the ‘Daily Mail Spider’ – is it the UK’s most dangerous spider?
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The Daily Mail today* squeaks a warning about the inexorable rise of what it describes as “the UK’s most dangerous spider”:
Somehow avoiding a link to the forthcoming Spiderman movie the article begins:
Global warming has led to the rapid rise in numbers of a poisonous spider which is a close relative of the deadly Black Widow and is now thriving in Britain. Although the false widow spider accidentally came into this country 200 years ago after it arrived in a bunch of bananas from the Canary Islands, it is rare to find one. But our mild winters and have sent numbers rocketing. Experts are now warning gardeners to be alert after a couple stumbled across two of the biting black spiders, known as Steatoda Nobilis in Latin… Stuart Hine, insect expert at the Natural History museum, is now warning all gardeners to be on alert. He said: “Numbers of the Steatoda Nobilis have whipped up in the last ten years. There is no doubt in my mind that this is due to the milder winters caused by global warming.”
Now apart from the oddities in this text (would the eminent Mr Hine really have said ‘the Steatoda Nobilis’? The definite article is erroneous, as is the capitalisation) its really no more than a tired old story whipped up for the season (and an apparent rewrite of a 2006 story in the Daily Telegraph). If someone had actually been bitten by the spider and suffered ill-effects (a malaise known as steatodism) that would probably be news – as such an event is pretty rare in this country. There is one reported case in which Steatoda was confirmed to be the cause in Worthing in 1991, but the only other well-known incident was in 2006 in Dorchester, and of this the same Mr Hine says, in a Natural History Museum page on the subject:
In this case, the spider ran off and couldn’t be captured, so it wasn’t formally identified. The culprit spider was described as looking very much like one of the false widow spiders, Steatoda nobilis , but there are a number of similar looking species such as the black widow. The incident happened in a market, so it is possible that the culprit may have been an exotic spider accidentally shipped over in a fruit container from overseas. It’s quite possible it was an exotic spider, and if indeed these severe symptoms were wholly attributed to the spider then I would say they are a bit extreme for the bite of S. nobilis in a healthy adult.
So not much to worry about there then. Many other cases of reported spider bites turn out to be unproven, and as an adverse reaction is in itself unusual it’s hard if not impossible to say what species was involved after the fact – especially as the specimen responsible is usually a jammy smear by that time. As with nettles, bees wasps, and even peanuts and PVC, some people unfortunately are sensitive to spider bites and will suffer reactions such as flu-like episodes, palpitations and hot/cold sweats. But for almost everyone, the effect of spider bite in this country is an itchy lump for a day or so at worst. So actually, there’s almost no evidence of Steatoda nobilis or any other UK spider causing anything more than temporary discomfort to anyone. [Edit: Stuart Hine reads The Ranger’s Blog – he gives more detail of actual statistics in a comment below. Thanks Stuart!] What is clear, however, is that there are a good many people terrified of spiders, and this sort of alarmist populism serves only to reinforce this terror without any benefit to them. For example, the Daily Mail continues:
Michael Willis and his wife Pam, both 62, were terrified after spotting the shiny black creatures crawling up their garden wall of their home in Verwood, Dorset. Unsure what to do, Mrs Willis captured one in a jam jar and took it to an environmental health expert who confirmed it was a female Steatoda Nobilis.
Poor old Mr and Mrs Willis – terrified by a more-or-less harmless spider in their garden. There are probably thousands of the spiders there, and they’ve probably been there for decades. And yet nobody has been bitten, certainly not Mr and Mrs Willis. Despite this lack of notability, they were obviously upset, as this creeping menace merits the attention of the local Environmental Health, the Daily Mail, the Natural History Museum, and now us. So Steatoda may well be the UK’s most dangerous spider, but that position is only slightly more odious then being the UK’s most dangerous kitten. Far better, and more accurate, if the headline had been ‘Worried householders reassured to know that spiders are safe and good for your garden‘. Doubtless the sensible reassurance that Stuart Hine added to his statements was edited out along with his grammar and punctuation. Perhaps we should wait for the ‘Beware of Water Boatmen’ story!
*The article has been edited since publication
100 thoughts on “The truth about Steatoda nobilis the ‘Daily Mail Spider’ – is it the UK’s most dangerous spider?”
Hi, just had my first sighting of s. Noblis on the exterior of our house in Nantwich, Cheshire.
Brownish female (I think), skull marking on abdomen yesterday morning.
I decided to ‘inspect’ the rest of the house exterior last night and noticed huge wisps of web round the central heating vent. Used a very long piece of card to touch the far end of a web wisp and….a huge s. Noblis back shiny legs and abdomen, superb skull marking came scuttling out to investigate…..got a couple of good photos, but that was a monster of a spider – wow. Quite scary looking. In awe though. Just hoping they don’t venture into the house.
I live in a cabin, with a ‘wild’ nature garden by lakes on an apple/cider farm in Herefordshire, perfect spider habitat so I’m quite familiar with many species and their mannerisms. However over the past 3 years the outside of our cabin has become a steodata nobilis (and other comb footed/widow family spider) heaven. Its covered, the females are quite happy in the eaves and by windows outside but in the past year more and more, particularly large (8-15mm diameter inc legspan) males have been venturing inside, particularily around the mating season which I blame for their meanders. I normally have no problems, but our bed is on a mezzanine and the males have developed a regular habit of hanging on one long gossamer at head height or a regular spot of a foot above the bed. By regular I mean they’re spotted a few times a week, and Im out most of my time so its become a bit concerning as its not the same male each time (I catch and release in a barn a good 5min walk away). Its not accidental falls either as they deliberately lower themselves slowly down to the same height and hang there for a long time. One spot in particular is odd as its in front of the TV speakers and I’d have thought they wouldn’t like the loud vibrations on the silk as this would interfere if they were hunting prey. Its becoming very tiresome waking with a spider hanging on one leg above my face on a regular basis.
Why do they practice this behaviour? Could there be a female somewhere in my bedroom?
My boyfriend enjoys spreading the rumour that they’re drinking from my mouth at night… But that sounds a bit insane (particularly from the spiders view), and why would they still do it in the day?
Also, how can we reduce the number (its an infestation of hundreds now) on the outside and increasingly inside our cabin, without killing them or catching them all individually. I think overcrowding could be contributing to the odd behaviour.
Do conkers really help? The ones above my bed are very old and dry now…
P.s : thanks for attempting to debunk the media hype, hopefully with more persuasion my sister will visit (she’s too ‘scared’ at present).
On bites: I’ve had a little nip when cleaning the porch and a female, defending her egg sac, fell down my sleeve, totally my fault. It hurt yes, i felt a bit of malaise but I was fine. Initially on reading media hype I felt what I now think were phantom symptoms.
In November 2016 I visited family in Austrailia and experienced black widows on garden furniture and got a bite on a finger from a white tailed spider in the laundry basket… This was much worse than my UK spider bite but I was fine, my nurse aunt gave antihistamines and I went backpacking as planned the next day!
I don’t mean to condisend or insult anyone, as we all react differently. But as I work in PR & comms I think media hype has increased the described severity of bite symptoms. Especially with self-diagnosis cases!
Thanks for your thoughts Sophia and I salute your well-balanced response to your unwanted visitors. Truth is nobody really knows how to deter spiders indoors, although plenty have ideas. Conkers are a popular concept but unproven. Some spiders don’t like it too dry or bright, and Steatoda is fairly tolerant but not very. So keeping a room dry and well lit might help; although that’s not so easy at night. As for the speakers, it is possible the spiders actually like the vibration.
If you find a solution, you might be a popular person I think!
Great article and fascinating comments. I currently share my home with two Steatoda nobilis – one up in a corner near the front door, and another who, more worryingly, has taken up residence in a lovely new web on my tea shelf in the kitchen.
I’m more than happy to co-exist with them, but am concerned that someone will end up getting a nip when they innocently reach for the Earl Grey.
The one beside the front door has a large egg ball at the back of her web, which she guards continuously. I don’t mind having these two adults indoors, but I don’t really want to end up with hundreds more around the place when the little ones hatch.
Any idea how I can remove the egg bundle without overly annoying mum? She never, ever leaves the web, and spends all day jealously wrapped round her developing little ones. She emerges at night, but only a couple of inches towards the front edge of her web. The egg bundle is right at the back of the tubular retreat off the rear of the web, so there’s no way I can get to it without getting her out of the way first and damaging her house in the process. As things are, at least I know where she is. Would I be better off leaving well alone?
Any suggestions welcome.
Hey, I am “the eminent Mr Hine” not so eminent just an ordinary chap really, but passionate about insects and other invertebrates. I am very pleased that you have given me the benefit of doubt re: editing. Now I never spoke to the Daily Mail or the Sun directly, rather they put something together from a press agency report, who I did talk to. As always quotation marks go round their interpretations of concepts I may have embraced in the original interview, but of course this then takes on a completely different meaning, but if you dance with the devil.
That aside, yes this story makes its annual appearance and I fully expect to cover it once a year for the next decade ” if this is the will of the media. The truth is that Steatoda nobilis is increasing its range and it will become more common unless the UK climate reverts again to more severe winters, which doesn’t seem likely.
The facts are that of 640 UK spider species only 12 are recorded as having bitten humans and they tend to be larger species, Tegenaria spp, Amaurobius spp, Nuctenea umbratica, and native Steatoda, S. grossa in particular. Generally speaking the effects of bites/invenonmations are paltry, though shocking for the victim. But of course each individual reacts slightly differently and some more severely. Through my day job, Manager of Insect Information Service (Natural History Museum) I am aware of about 12 confirmed (we have formally identified the spider) cases of S. nobilis bite in the last 8 years (interestingly we never recorded this species as an enquiry pre 1999, and numbers have risen each year since). I have received two this year already, with accompanying spiders. (one enormous female from the Isle of Wight ” that was the gardening glove incident and I never warned gardeners to check their gloves and generally begin to panic). In both cases the’victim’ (sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it) described a numbness and pain that radiated from finger tip to shoulder and lasted for several hours. However, I am sure that this is as severe as it would get and many people get bitten and barely notice it.
Of course I also explain the great value of spiders and how rare the event of spider bite in the UK actually is. I also always explain that up to 12 people die from wasp/bee stings in the UK each year and we do not panic so much about wasps and bees ” but this never makes it past editing.
Still I could go on, they do bite, people have experienced severe-ish reactions, it is generally nothing to worry about and spiders are of great environmental importance and are really rather beautiful and very interesting.
Interesting that global warming is listed as a reason why this spider is showing up, as if global warming is a fact, not a whimsy, not to mention the probability that the spider is developing a new skill, to adapt, a skill that stems from evolution. Silly people.
Bitten by one of these in 2008. I live right on the River Stour in Dorset, where they thrive. I am positive as it was a nighttime bite, rolled onto the thing in my sleep and woke in a lot of pain (felt very much like a deep injection). Next day found dead False Widow in the bed, unmistakeable to id. Also bite site was raised, close inspection showed double puncture (really close inspection, from further back it was just like a classic blandford fly bite).
I’d say I had about 2 to 3 days of pretty nasty flu-like symptoms but nothing worse (systemically). Locally the bite site was nasty (not necrotic though – and that fits because I believe these spiders bite’s are not that ‘flavour’). Swelling persisted for actually about 2 weeks, the darkened, bruised looking tissue in the area (about the size of a 10p) for 4 weeks. While I echo the sentiment that it’s probably not that serious. I’m a 14 stone, fit, 34 year old male (so 29 at the time of the bite), and this affected me both locally and systemically. I cannot help but feel that were it someone elderly or one of my young children it could have been a worse situation.
I live in East Dorset and was bitten in 2009. Exactly as Alan describeshis bite really; my bite was a hot, burning pain, that lasted much, much longer than a bee sting. A blister formed and a radiating,red welt. I’d hung my cardigan over an open garden door and the spider bit when I put the cardigan back on. It felt like a hot match head or needle stab – which the spider’s small size belies. A magnifying glass showed it to be a female Steatoda noblis. Felt slightly unwell, no big drama. Have found five in the house so far this winter (2014/15). I have photos of these uninvited house guests if there’s an upload available.
I’ve seen quite a few of these spiders recently. only ever one at a time and usually in open (not dark) places. I only noticed a couple of them after realizing they were on my hand. i live in Cheshire with open fields behind but have seen them in various places but always outdoors so i’m not too worried about finding one indoors. is it true they eat other spiders??/ if so is this not a good thing???
Almost all spiders eat plenty of other spiders, and Steatoda is no exception!
just thought id get in touch again. ive been working in the garden building a rabbit hutch. whilst workin I have seen 4 of these spiders. im not worried in the slightest as ive said I only noticed some after realizing they were on my hand. you can certainly be sure that I wont be killing or removing any of these spiders. I have two young children who often play around the garden and was wonderin what I should do if one of them was bitten (not likely I know). should I treat it like a wasp sting or should I be aware of anything else??? any idea how quickly this species is spreading??
They’re spreading, but not that fast. And for bites, it’s likely to be no worse than a nettle-rash, if that. Look out for allergic reactions, as with everything, but otherwise no need to worry.
I have found these spiders in large numbers under my floorboards. I live in the highlands! but on the west coast we get mild winters. hows that for northern nobilis spider…
The Ranger responds: it’s pretty unusual for these spiders to live in complete darkness, although not impossible. It’s possible if your underfloor spaces are a bit damp that you might have the larger and rarer Meta menardi, the cave spider.
I was bitten by a False widow spider in september 2011 It put me in hospital with extreme pain for 20 days but problem was not understood by hospital staff, indeed not recognised until 3 months later when my leg was being redressed by a community nurse who said” you have been bitten by a false widow spider, the second case I’ve seen this year” When I returned home I was on crutches for a week and housebound for many weeks after that. I eventually caught a specimen and sent it to the Nat. history museum in London, for identification and it was confirmed. Here I am 15 months later and still suffering mild pain and occasional suppuration. the bite triggered off a return of shingles after 45 years ( confirmed by GP) and I am left with Herpatic nuralgia and waiting for injections from a pain specialist. I also suffer from nasty muscle spasm which Doctors say is not connecte,d but I am sure it is . I feel that before spider experts belittle spider bites they should find one and let it bite them, they would soon change their tune . They are nasty dangerous beasties. David Gerry.
* correction . bitchy…
and just all 3 species described are not dangerous. Every summer there are at least 2 in my garden even on big heights (even on telephone lines) Steatoda paykulliana is rare to very rare and found the name long after i saw it on nest …after google and seach… (test strength of nest using pine niddle and need force to break it as i said…. thought was the notorious latrodectus spider..but not!)
Thnx for hearing my opinion hope there are no troubles from….ichy beachy spiders in UK 🙂
Since i have written my opinion above i would like to say further comments. In Athens where i live the kind of steatoda have come up are steatoda grossa / nobilis / paykulliana. Grossa is the one with white zone on her abdomen close to rest of body and white markins or shapes below the belly. Paykulliana is totally black with red stripe zone on her abdomen a bit larger compared to grossa. Nobilis is brown with dots on her abdomen the smaller of the 3. I have never heard anything worrying on these spiders in my country. In fact for a long time i thought the Paykulliana was the classic black widow of the meditteranean basin but far from it ( Tredecimguttatys is the black widow with 13 red dots on all her abdomen and big as Paykulliana ) Grossa does make a rather not much irregural web more like a fishing boat lacking vertical traps depending where is the nest not that strong silk and not large but big enough web. Nobilis makes it more irregular small web with trip irregular lines and does it indoors too. Nobilis is rather small and prefers corners on outdoors and indoors, windows not well lighted from sun. Grossa likes sun so nests are on open places like gardens with fences even ropes where clothes are set for drying out near corners are perfect spots for them close to humid places and also not windy enough. If temperature is above 30 they tend to stay out of their hiding nest showing their presence. Mostly cause they have to protect eggs and they guard them – probably more dangerous their venom when tem is more than 30 degrees C. Paykulliana likes what grossa does but silk nest is the strongest and is totally irregular 3 D dimensional …close to black widows spider nest with strong trip vertical lines. In my opinion Paykulliana seems to me to be more “dangerous” as looks closer to latrodectus in terms of size, nervousness if threatened – not agressive at all but more like nervous to run and hide if feel human presence. To tell you the truth in Athens or mani (in peloponissos) i have never seen latrodectus tredenciguttatus (is seen in Crete mostlty). Came up with info/news of latrodectus mactans/hasselti invaded England. I think this spider can’t survive in UK because of colder and more humid weather probably mistaken to steatoda (Paykulliana is a possibility) and if so can’t be reproduced naturally. If there was such a case they should invade other european countries first. Fear again is overuled and exxagerated not that these littles can’t bite but clear environment with no much moisture is the key. Most houses in UK are grounded with very little foundations. As i lived in UK in a typical house below the carpet in my living room there was wood, dirt, stones no big foundations, rats was a problem and floor was humid. This is a point for spiders and insects
check out article in herald express nov 24 2011 page 8..re woman bitten twice in 10 years,,
I have today found a female Steotoda Nobilis in my loft. It was a solitary spider in the tell tale mish mash web. If I have found one does that mean that there will be more in the loft? For recording purposes I live in north birmingham, so they are definately marching in a notherly direction.
Dear Virtual Ranger: Yesterday, I wrote asking where I could send you pictures of a spider to confirm if it is S. nobilis but my email was wrong. So, I write again indicating the correct email.
Thanks a lot in advance.
The Ranger responds: A good place for getting UK wildlife identified online is iSpot.
Could anyone try and help me out please, my daughter was bitten by a spider which we found on her bed in a hotel we styed in in Higham in Kent. Is it true that this spider mentioned above is the only spider in UK that bites, she had a very itchy ankle and two small bite marks, the spider itself was not squashed by a shoe but let out the window back to the forest where he came from, Any help??
Hi there all – I am a spider lover living in South Africa, and I came across this blog today and read it with great delight! I had actually just captured a Steatoda capensis in my garden, and was researching it on the web (no pun intended). We consider all Steatoda here in SA to be harmless.
I was born in England and was an arachnophobe of note – living in SA necessitated getting over it! I take it no one has died yet from S. nobilis? I have brown widows living around my house, and leave them in peace. I am going to be a regular visitor to your blog in future!
The Ranger responds: Hi Joan – no, nobody’s died of spider bite in the UK as far as I’m aware. Glad you like the blog, keep the comments coming!
I have SN living in my utility room and back lobby, they’ve never moved from their webs.
I found what I thought was a male, similar but smaller body, but the legs were very shiny and quite red – I’ve not seen anything like it.
Was this the male or another family?
Also, I have two dogs that don’t hurt spiders but do tend to “investigate” them with their noses – do you know of any incidences of SN bites with dogs and could the bite be more dangerous for dogs. I’d be very grateful for your advice as I really don’t want to be evicting them.
Thanks very much.
I have in the last week found 2 large female Steotoda Nobilis in my garden. I have never seen them here before and I have lived here for 12 years. I live in north Cambridgeshire.
I was bitten by Steotoda Grossa again and went to Casuality. This time there was more than one Bite, and I suffered the worst reaction that I have had so far. The bite marks are on the ankle and I had some muscle paralysis and uncoordinated movements like being drunk and exhaustion, muscles feeling like ton weights. I have had a sleep and recovered in one to two days. I believe that one bite is okay, take a Hystamine, but more than one, and you can suffer some discomfort, which clears up eventually, but you do feel ill for a few days with General malaise.
I was bitten by Steotoda Grossa, the second species, similar to Steotoda Nobilis. I have been bitten before, as it is around the home. The best advice is antihystamine. This time I was awoken at 3-45am. I had a tingling and numbness in my arm and legs were wobbly and cold sweats. I went to casuality and returned home. The Staff were excellent. I was ill for a day and have now recovered. I counted four bites so it is the amount of times, that increase the toxicity in your system. To remove them safely, just use a vacuum pipe to suck them up if you find them.
Hi, loved reading all about the biting spider, I have now been bitten twice by the little rascal. The first time it happened was about 5 years ago when I was living in Leighton Buzzard in Beds, I had brought a jumper in from the garden and as I went to put my arm in the sleeve I felt an intense bite, when I rolled the sleeve down there she was hidden away. I went to the doctors and was given Antihistamines which helped but after 2 weeks it reinfected and became very itchy again and the skin darker, It cleared up pretty quickly after that.
The second time was last weekend whist gardening in Higham Ferrers, Northants. It was hot and I was wearing a T-shirt without realising I felt a tickle in my bra strap, without thinking I pressed the itch and felt a sharp pang, taking my top off I found the spider in the lining. This time the bite looked horrible as it was on the soft sensitive skin on my chest and after a couple of days had really swollen and spread the skin discoloured and the itching was something else! again Antihistamines helped but they do pack a NASTY nip!
Keep up the great work looking after all the little beasties x
Well what can i say about spiders. Well in fact i lived in Coventry and Essex for 4 years as a student and the spiders i came up were mostly orb weavers and species more like Segestrias and Pholcidaes. I could say that UK is rather poor in case of spider population and the fear sometimes people of UK is rather exxagerated to a certain point. My country is Greece (Athens north suburbs) and to tell you the truth I am sort of an emperical expert on spiders. I could say that indeed the spider reported is a steatoda grossa. Some of them exist today in my garden, never run indoors even though there was a steatoda for 2 years on the second floor balcony fence close to the rope where my mother uses to dry the clothes (10 meters high) If you are keen on insects observation you certainly know that spiders are everywhere from ceiling of a garage of you home to the pine trees and corners of fences and the grass. You can spot there steatodas, pholcids, cyrtophoras, may come up on salticids spiders walking on walls for flies, segestrias with radiating silky threds out of their holes, yellow orb weavers like argiopes and araneous diadematus near the grass (propably the ones in UK) (all of these can be found in my garden right now) My point is that there is no need to be so much fear especially in the UK about being bitten by “unkown” spiders since experts tell the story as it clearly is. Respect and knowledge is the answer… well of course you can’t be an expert since you are not interested and not want to bother. On the other side however tales of story just like “the term bananas spider” bring more confusion as all big spiders in uk are said to be bananas one and very dangerous… And the term bananas spider mostly refer to hairy spiders of the tropics. The most dangerous is phoneutria nigriventer of brazil which can indeed be transported through food or something else but not all hairy mygalomorphae spiders are phoneutrias. The term bananas spiders also refer for argiopes (black-yellow orb weavers) and also for tropical spiders of the genus nephila all of them totally harmless if not cornered and au contraire rather beneficial. Anyway hairy spidrs can’t live in UK, nephilas also argioopes well they can live (south england)
In greece the only dangerous spider is Latrodectus tredecimguttatus. Iam sure Britain have spiders of Theridiidae family like steatoda is but there is no need for big fear if they run indoors. And also if found one fear and panic is not a good advisor. I guess many can think that spiders can hide everywhere so the unthinkable can happen…it happened to me i can ensure you..right close to my bed in coventry (i feared to tell you the truth)….anyway… I know that spiders love moisture and UK has lots of it and homes in UK are close to the ground build so spiders can run indoors but hopeless fear is not needed
Thanx for sharing my thoughs
Please don’t use a pesticide as a precaution as this is not just incredibly harmful to the environment but to all life including every other insect (which kills the eco system) pets, children and adults, it will hang around for a week or longer getting into your lungs and killing everything in sight. You can use a spider repellant in and outdoors that will not harm anything. Conker spray does work and there’s citronella oil, a few drops with water in a spray bottle is the better one. Place wood stocks as far from the house as poss, vines! they love them, especially if their creeping up your building on to windows and south facing, sheds, particularly if you have a clear congregated roof, basically they love to sunbathe so they could be hanging around the window, inside or out. Hope this help. Emma
I would also like to point out, I have lived and worked in Weymouth, Dorset for a number of years, always coming across this spider and never really thinking anything of it, although I know a few people personally who have told of horror stories, but no one tends to report it. It is always bad bruising and the same symptoms generally, and I would like to agree with the fact they have taken over the garden spiders here in Weymouth, you never really see any other spider any more other than the hedge spider, probably because they breed ten to the dozen, and just create more food for them, oh and one other and that’s got some weird green fangs going on, I guess this is climate change and nothing we can really do about it. No matter if they were eradicated they’d be back, guess we just have to embrace the change and keep clean homes to be free of them. A good dusting, pulling out furniture and hovering is how we tend to deal with them here, with a little SPRAY!!
I’m just getting over quite a nasty bite from one of these. Camping in north Wales, collecting wood, never again, it’s taken three weeks for it to heal finally! Intense itching for a week with bad bruising, swelling, a wheel, always a little pus escaping and generally feeling unwellwith flu like symtoms. It is still sore to touch but scabbed over now thats still itchy if touched. I didn’t take anything for it or see a gp, although now I know how long it lasts and incase of infection I’l see my gp asap.
These little critters may be beautiful, but avoid!!.
I have just found one in my garage. Fairly large as well. Anyone want to come and remove it for me please. I dont want it squashed. Im in Rayleigh Essex.
If you live in a House with Steotoda species, always shake your Clothes and Boots at night, and remove Covers and check Bed. The bites occur sometimes, because they get into the bed and you do not see them.
The Steotoda Species is not new to the UK, but has been in Britain since 1880, in small colonies which have spread because of warmer Summers. They hide deep in webs behind Chest of Drawers, and Refrigerators. The one in my flat was a very large Adult female. It is only the females that bite, the males are non toxic. Spiders do a good job of keeping insect population down, so should be left alone.
I lived in a flat in Brighton, and found that I had the Species, Steotoda Grossa, which is the species that most looks like a Black Widow. I had one large female, which disappeared into its web, and gave me a shock. I subsequently, used fly spray, which kills them, and a vaccuum cleaner, to hover them up. I moved back to my house and found a new colony, of which there are some in my room. I have been bitten at least four times, which leaves puncture marks.
I have not had an adverse side affects, of an allergic reaction, which can occur in somepeople. I did feel a bit off, with symptoms like flu, and then fully recovered. Basically if it happens take an Anti-Hystamine and seek medical advice, but the majority cases, bites are mild, and are nothing to worry about.
I have just found a small dark brown shiny bodied spider in my hall, about the same shape as a redback but very much smaller. It has a red/orange mark on its back, much like the redback. Can anyone tell me what it is please and whether it might be poisonous.
The Ranger responds: it depends on where in the world your hall is and what the spider looks like. If you are in the UK and live in the Midlands or south of there, it’s probably Steatoda nobilis.
Hi, Just to let you know that i spotted this little beauty for the first time a few weeks ago! Being a spider lover i was keen to have a closer look and had no hesitation in letting it have a crawl over my hands. You will be pleased to know that it didn’t produce 6″ fangs and attack! Looked it up on’t tinternet and found them to be more commonly spotted in the southern part of the UK! Interesting – Jay (Derbyshire)
Thank goodness for the wonder of the Internet. A largish black spider fell out of a towel hanging over the bath yesterday and as normal, I picked it up to put it out. Very crossly, it sank its fangs into my finger and required quite a hefty pull (without damaging it) to pull it out. I then put it outside, noticing that as it appeared to have some sort of egg sac behind it, I assumed it was a female.
I wasn’t worried but my husband was and a quick referral to the internet exposed it as Steatoda Nobilis and nothing to worry about at all. The fingered tingled for a while – and that was it. There are two little dots on my finger to prove I wasn’t making the whole thing up! I should think there are going to be loads in our garden now, which is fine. Incidentally, we’re in Kent.
We have many of these arachnids around our garden and out house.
Pretty scary at first as I have never seen a spider like it in the UK, now however their not as bad…
They can kill though, many people are too concerned of “UK spiders”, this one came in from other countries and some people have died in the Canary islands!
Sadly they infested on our attached out-house and as it was so close (a door) to out house we had to clean it out, resulting in many sucked up spiders.
Another thing I have noticed is the imbalance of other spiders, the webbing I see contains flys,woodlouse, occasional beetle and garden spiders! No wonder I haven’t seen any, they used to be everywhere but now it is apparent a war is raging and the false widows are winning.
Is this meant to happen?
Hi everyone. I’ll get right to the point. I was bitten by a spider last week whilst in bed (03/09/09). I managed to catch the spider in a glass, and left it on my desk. I experienced severe itching, redness, and aching, for about 1-2 hours. The next day, I looked up the spider on the internet, and it is definitly a Steadoda Nobilis. (I still have the specimen that bit me). I have emailed a few people I found on the internet, to try and report the case, but I’ve had no replies.
It gets better! Since that night, we have found more Steadoda Nobilis in the house. Roughly about 8 so far. Varying in size. The biggest being about 40mm from end to end (legs).
It gets even better! Today, my dad rang me to say he was just bitten by one too. He has also kept the specimen. I should add that I live with my parents, they were on holiday in Wales, and so he thinks that the spider must have been in his bags. He reported exactly the same pains as I had.
I don’t know what to do about reporting this. It definitely isn’t normal to have so many of these spiders in our house, and it is quite worrying. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. If you wish to contact me, please email: email@example.com
The Ranger responds: sorry to hear of your troubles. It sounds as though you are having a mild allergic reaction to the spider’s bite, which also explains why your father is affected in a similar way. These spiders are not unusual nor new, they are all over the place and a common spider in much of southern England, with locally abundant areas across the country it seems. So you don’t need to report it. Lots of spiders tend to come indoors at this time of year but they will soon wander off as it gets colder. As you seem to be sensitive to them your best course of action is just to avoid them.
I think that I might have just found one of these in my bathroom, in a 4th floor flat in Hackney!
I was surprised by the colour of it’s legs, as I wasn’t aware of any other species that had bright red legs other than the one that eats wood lice.
It was crouched up on a sponge underneath the bathroom cabinet and didn’t seem at all bothered by the fact that I had disturbed it.
It was it’s bright unusual colouring along with it’s unusual docile behaviour that made me start searching for an I.D guide on the internet.
Regrettably I put it out on the balcony where it crawled under the decking boards so I cannot find it again.
The main thing that has puzzled me though is that it didn’t have a bulbous abdomen though?
It definitely had the elongated middle section “thorax”? that was very dark in colour almost black, and was held very low to the ground along with the very red legs, especially those at the front.
I can’t imagine what else it would have been, but I’m certainly no expert.
Hoping this will show the photo
Hi, I live in a village in Somerset and had a large S. Nobilis in my conservatory, on Sunday. It was so unusal – and big and hanging at shoulder height that my 5 year old asked me to photograph it. I did and emailed the photos around for id. I let the spider carry on her way but when the id came back my husband tracked her down and squished her as she was in our daughters playroom and the dog loves it in there too. Since then, I have been reading up and appear to have loads of them. The ones I found inside today were evicted to find homes outside and the ones outside have been left alone.
I had thought they must have come from my weekly veg shop but having seen so many today of varying sizes from teeny to about 10mm I reckon they have been here for a while. If I could work out how to put a photo up, I would.
Thankfully I have found this site, it has now answered my question on what type of spider this is! I have an Steatoda nobilis just above my front door in the porch … it’s been there for a while now and I thought it had gone as I had not seen it for a while until today, when a wasp got tangled in the web and suddenly this ‘huge’ thing came out and in a matter of seconds spun more web around it and he took it back to his den! Since this morning he has caught two wasps!! Must admit I’m not a fan of any spiders (nor is the other half) but with this chap I have taken a shine to!
I’m aware that the S. Nobilis isn’t supposed to like being indoors, but the ones I have seem to love it. I find at least one 10-12mm example every day in my house, usually around the bathroom. I have found them hidden in the holes in my cars windscreen wiper. There was a monster 17mm one hidden behind my gutter outside. Today my fiancÃ©e found one had crawled into her car and set up shop by the window. Thing is, she is a massive arachnophobiac, and I have been bitten by (and had a couple of sick days) from one of these before, so neither of us are particularly keen on them. Is there anything I can do to put them off being in my house?
Heres a quick question about the false widow? I have a host of these spiders living on a south facing wall and in the evening when they all come out to play and hunt I have seen that sometimes there are pairs of these spiders sharing the same cubby hole or webb. I thought that spiders did not tolerate such closeness, i wondered if the ranger may be able to answer that one? This is the first year that I have seen so many in one place, and although not a lover of spiders I am tolerating them, as the old saying goes ” if you want to live and thrive let a spider run alive”!!!
The Ranger responds: indeed spiders don’t always get on very well together but also they do sometimes live in close proximity to each other, as what is a good site for one spider will be a good site for another. This is especially true when they have webs and stay on them, and so can therefore keep out of each others’ way quite well. But you’re less likely to see a load of non-web-weavers such as wolf spiders or jumping spiders all in the same place. That would be very unusual.
hi my name is Nic and I live in Preston in the North West of England. I know they say you can not get Steatoda nobilis in the north but i’m not sure because there was a case of a woman being bitten by a Steatoda species in Cumbria which is close to where I live. The spiders i see all the time are Dysdera crocata and Amaurobius simils in my garden. My question though is how likely would it be to find a Steatoda spp in Preston, Lancashire? I’m a spider enthusiast and am hoping to study Arachnology very soon
To anyone interested, at the end of this summer i saw a rather large example of the S. Nobilis on a wall in my college in Wimbledon, London. The only time i’ve seen one up here, she was pretty static and i was suprised to see one up here as i’d heard they stayed pretty close to the south coast! Cant imagine it and any of its family survived the rather harsh winter experienced in London, but i’m pretty sure it was a positive sighting having studied this spider very closley over the last couple of years! Just thought someone might be interested to hear it. Still not afraid of these spiders, i think they’re amazing, if only for the stir they’ve caused!!
The Ranger responds: thanks for the info Freddie. Although there are more of them down here these spiders are not uncommon as far north as London and are seen even further north.
I was bitten in 04by one of the steatoda spiders. The bite left my body in shock which led to a serious bout of shingles due to the stress. It took the shingles, (Herpes Simplex 1 , Chicken pox virus)4 years to stop after diagnosis. I used anti viral drugs to hopefully stop the virus returning