Warning over increase in false widow attacks as heatwave prompts population rise

Brits could see a surge in the false widow spider population over the summer as the mercury soars, an expert has warned.

Several species of the eight-legged arachnid live across the nation – with the noble false widow thought to be the most venomous.

And Dr Christopher Terrell-Nield, an entomologist at Nottingham Trent University, has said that the population could be on the rise.

He told The Sun : “The breeding season will tend more to be in the summer months when it’s warmer.

“There are two generations during the course of the summer, which would bulk up the numbers.”

Temperatures are forecast to rocket this weekend – with parts of Britain experiencing glorious highs of 28C.

Bookies have slashed the odds that this July is the hottest ever – which could also increase the number of false widows.

The spiders are not known to be aggressive but are venomous, and attack when they feel in danger.

And the warning comes as people up and down the nation reveal their experiences after being bitten.

Carl Jones – a self-confessed arachnophobe – first noticed a strange injury in January when he woke up with a sore on his arm.

Not knowing what caused it, the lab technician immediately went to an Urgent Care centre, where doctors dressed the wound but were equally baffled.

Carl’s injury soon worsened – becoming infected and eventually starting to eat at the surrounding flesh – leaving a nauseating £2 coin-sized wound filled with puss.

Carl, from Milton Keynes, Bucks, became seriously unwell due to his injury.

He said: “I ended up in A&E one time. I was at work and someone said I didn’t look very well. I was dripping with sweat.

“I experienced lots of sweating and fevers.

“I underwent investigations for Borrelia, TB and eventually skin cancer as the wound wasn’t healing after five months.”

Doctors tried to cure Carl’s injury by putting him on three different antibiotics but none were effective.

Finally in June – five months on from the initial bite – Carl, 26, underwent a biopsy, which successfully removed the infected part of the wound.

And weeks later Carl discovered the culprit for his injury when he came across a noble false widow spider in his bathroom.

He said: “I came home from work the other night and I’ve never seen anything like it before.

“I looked into cases around Milton Keynes and I saw a news article about an increase of false widows in the area.

“I just put two and two together really.”

Tracey Hamilton, 50, also had a tough time after being bitten by a false widow.

She was out sunbathing when she noticed her knuckle beginning to itch – before her whole arm had swelled up two days later.

She went to hospital to try and get some antibiotics, but was told she may even need surgery to clean underneath her hand and prevent the spider venom from spreading into her bones.

She said: “After blood had been taken they told me a plastic surgeon would be round to see me – I gasped, I thought they had gotten me mixed up with another patient.

“My legs were jelly and all of sudden it hit me it was serious and I felt helpless.

“I thought it was midge bites – how wrong I was.”

Tracey had gone out to a local park near her home in Bishopbriggs, Scotland to sunbathe on July 1.

She said: “I sat at top of the hill for the view and I wasn’t far from the long grass and trees.

“I took out my blanket, off came my shoes and socks and I took a few pictures of the view.

“I was sunbathing for about one hour and I only saw wee beasties, some normal Scottish midges.”

After she got up to leave about half an hour later, she started to feel a small itch on her knuckle – but didn’t think much of it at the time.

At about 8pm she started to feel nauseous and dizzy so took herself to bed, but when she woke up the next morning she knew something was wrong.

She said: “My hand and my upper arm had swollen up and was also itchy,

“I thought had had a bad reaction to whatever wee Scottish beasty, a midge or something.”

She called the doctor and explained that she believed she had been bitten by something, so she was sent to the pharmacy to pick up an antihistamine.

“I thought I’d be fine after I’d taken one or two tablets,” the mum-of-three said.

“On the Saturday I woke up and found my whole hand, my wrist, my knuckles and halfway up my arm was totally numb.

“It had swollen up and was very red, I also had blisters on my knuckle and my upper arm.”

She then went to the Royal Infirmary of Glasgow where the doctors examined her bites.

She said: “They said I would need to be put on a strong antibiotic and I said ok, thinking it was just a tablet and I’d go home, but nope it was intravenous drip.”

A surgeon told her that she had been bitten twice by a noble false widow.

Bus driver Tracey remained in the hospital ward that evening, but was told she may need to be taken in for surgery to clean underneath the bite and check her knuckle bone hadn’t been infected.

Fortunately, the next morning the antibiotics had reduced the swelling and she could move her hand, meaning surgery was not necessary.

Dr Terrell-Nield said that warm weather in and of itself doesn’t increase the false widow population, but prompts an increase in the speed offspring emerges.

And he added that, despite the horror stories, people should not be too worried.

“As far as I know, false widows haven’t killed anyone in this country,” he said.