Nasty surprise as venomous false widow spiders spotted

Shrewsbury | | Published:

If you've not got much on this weekend you might want to check your window frames – for you could have an uninvited house guest with a very nasty bite.

Karen Burgoyne, Jamie Burgoyne and Tony Durnell look at another of the poisonous spiders under the windowsill of Karen’s house

Eight false widow spiders – Britain's most venomous arachnid – have been found on a window frame of a house in Shropshire, and there are likely to be many thousands more throughout the county.

The spiders, thought to be the cousin of the deadly black widow, were spotted at the Shrewsbury home of former Sundorne councillor Karen Burgoyne on two separate occasions this week.

Her son Jamie, 17, made the initial discovery on Thursday afternoon as a bulbous-shaped spider with distinctive white markings dropped through the window as he attempted to let his cat outside.

He then found six more in a hammock-shaped web by the window.

The Shrewsbury College student examined the spiders with the help of town mayor Jon Tandy and ex-mayor Tony Durnell, and they are certain it matches the description of the so-called false widow spider.

The false widow spider population is spreading fast across the South West and further north due to the warmer temperatures.

Last week, Devon amateur footballer Steve Harris had to undergo emergency surgery on his leg after being bitten by a false widow while he slept.


Females lay up to 120 eggs at a time and a bite can trigger a fatal allergic reaction, although most people will suffer localised swelling and pain. It is the most dangerous of more than 600 species of spider in the UK and the British Arachnological Society has said the spider is now "extremely abundant" in some places.

Mr Durnell, who was Shrewsbury mayor in 2011, said: "For a little spider they are evil-looking things and the markings were so distinctive.

"Being a gardener, I come across plenty of garden spiders and it definitely wasn't one of them and when we compared it to the images on Google it was literally a mirror image of the false widow.

"It shook me up a bit."

He added: "The last thing we want to do is scare people, but they could well be hanging around in other people's window frames just like they have at Kaz's."

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