False widows are one of the few spiders in the UK which will bite humans. They normally come into contact with humans during the autumn and winter months, when cold weather drives them indoors. This can lead to some nasty infestations, and although they are not poisonous, they are scary pests. As the weather gets warmer, they are more likely to be spotted outdoors.

How do you spot a false widow?

False widow spiders are like the much feared and highly venomous black widow spiders in America.

In the UK, a false widow is a black spider with a bulbous abdomen and small head.

On their abdomen, they have a white marking which some say looks like a skull.

There are several types of false widow spider, the ‘noble’ false widow, ‘cupboard’ spiders and ‘rabbit hutch’ spiders.

The noble false widow tends to be more aggressive and bites people, while the others are harmless.

According to the British Arachnological Society, female noble widows are larger – ranging in size from 8.5mm to 14mm.

Male spiders range from 7mm to 10mm in length.

False widows lurk in window frames, your garden shed, and warm rooms in the house such as bedrooms.

Otherwise, they like areas like toilets, kitchens, lofts and conservatories.

False widows have characteristic webbing which is messy and covers a large area but is not sticky to the touch.

Spider season does not normally begin until autumn, but false widows are normally found between July and November.

What should you do if a false widow bites?

False widows are not as dangerous as they’re made out to be, and their venom is not particularly potent, unlike other famous venomous spiders.

Their fangs are damaging enough to cause pain radiating out from the site for 12 to 24 hours, however, it is not more painful than a wasp sting.

If bites are not kept clean and attended they can become more serious, but this is a result of a secondary bacterial infection rather than the spider bite itself.

The best advice is to keep the wound clean and get medical help immediately if you experience any very worrying symptoms after a suspected spider bite.

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