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False widow spiders on the rise in Dorset - have you spotted one?
NUMBERS of false widow spiders are on the rise across Dorset.
The breed, so called because of its similarity to the deadly black widow spider, is venomous, but not harmful to humans.
False widow spiders have a dark, shiny body with pale markings and a creamy coloured band on their abdomen. Increased sightings of the spider across the county have been recorded by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, who say there is no cause for concern if the creature is spotted.
Fifty-six-year-old Charlie Barnwell from Portland discovered a false widow spider on October 3, hidden behind a light close to his back door.
Mr Barnwell said: “I’ve heard of a few false widow spiders around Dorset. I’m hoping it’s not very dangerous as I have grandchildren who visit a lot.
“I haven’t squashed or moved the spider just yet. It’s content eating all the daddy long legs insects we have around at the moment.
“It’s quite big with the abdomen spanning half an inch across. I’m thinking of leaving it be if it’s not dangerous.”
Julie Richards, 41 from Weymouth also found a false widow spider behind a mirror in her lounge on October 8.
She said: “I called my son over to look and he knew the species and how dangerous it was straight away.
“My husband also caught another one from our kitchen last night; so numbers do seem to be on the rise.
“The spider was about as big as a 10p coin. I do want it out the house simply for peace of mind.”
Sally Welbourn who is the communications officer for the Dorset Wildlife Trust, identified both spiders from photographs as false widows – possibly the ‘nobilis’ form.
She added: “False widow spiders are relatively common in Dorset. They are often found in greenhouses and conservatories, where it is sheltered and warm.
“We have heard of one or two people being bitten but the reaction has been nothing more than a wasp sting.
“Some people have a more severe reaction to them but most don’t, and as long as you don’t provoke the spider, it has no reason to bite you.
“As a piece of general advice, it’s a good idea to beware of any spider that is shiny, and is black or dark brown.”
“If you find a false widow spider in your house, it is not something to worry about.
“We advise that you remove it using a glass and some cardboard and put it outside, as you might do for any other spider.”
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