ALL over the country, Brits are being bitten by venomous spiders whose numbers are creeping up this Autumn.
And it’s not just false widows you need to look out for – many other eight-legged creatures in the UK are leaving victims with agonising bites.
Lewis Pearce, 26, was left with excruciating injuries after he was bitten by venomous spiders in Southampton[/caption]
Earlier this month, we reported that a warm, wet summer was the reason we’re currently seeing swarms of spiders.
Now more cases have come to light, including mum Louise Edwards being left with an “oozing golf ball-sized abscess” in her armpit after a spider sank its fangs into her skin in south Wales.
And just this week, a family in Norwich were said to have been “eaten alive” by savage spider bites.
Pest control experts are reporting a huge surge in call outs for spider infestations in the last few months – the rise is because the fly population is also booming, giving the spiders plenty of food.
Everyone has heard of false widows, but here we meet Brits who’ve fallen foul of the UK’s other terrifying poisonous spiders, including one whose toxic venom causes crippling groin pain and another whose bite is like an electric shock.
Sickness and swelling
Like walnut orb-weavers, cross spiders have small, round bodies and are quite small.
But cross spiders are widespread in almost all of Britain and are particularly prevalent during autumn.
It’s named after the pale cross of spots on its round abdomen and is so common in the UK that it’s also known as the European garden spider.
Although theirs isn’t the most painful bite, cross spiders will cause swelling as well as a feeling of sickness which can last for two days.
Peter Higgs, 31, from PGH Pest Control in Guildford, Surrey, says the venomous spider population has completely rocketed in recent weeks.
He told Sun Online: “We didn’t really used to [treat] any spiders at all and now we’re just getting calls left, right and centre.
“There are just more and more of them — that’s because of the climate and the food availability.
“There are loads more flies and loads more invertebrates because of the climate, so therefore there are more spiders because they eat invertebrates.”
Cross spiders paralyse their prey by biting and envenoming them before wrapping them in silk for later consumption[/caption]
Hours of ‘deep injection’ pain
One of the most dangerous spiders in Britain, the cellar spider – or tube web spider – is the largest species of its kind in Europe.
The bodies of these huge black monsters can grow up to 22mm in length and it is recognisable by its bright green fangs.
Its name comes from the disturbing fact that it lives in the cracks of building walls, especially in dark cellars.
Although it was once confined to the Mediterranean region, the cellar spider is now found in many towns across the south of Britain and reports of the beasts are increasing in recent warm weather.
Its bite has been described as very painful and likened to a “deep injection”, with the pain lasting for hours.
Agonising blisters and fever symptoms
The cupboard spider is another species of false widow which also poses a threat to people because of its venomous bite.
Like cellar spiders, they take their name from their favourite habitats — inside the cupboards of family homes.
They’re known to attack when threatened and have been found all over the south of the UK.
But they are also spreading further north.
Its powerful bite might not kill you, but it will leave you with blistering for days and can even trigger a fever.
The cupboard spider is so creepy that it was used to depict the radioactive spider which bit Peter Parker in the 2002 Spider-Man film.
Jamie Harrison was just 13 when he was left with a 50p-sized ‘black hole’ when he was bitten last year[/caption]
Lurking in old buildings
The cardinal spider’s especially creepy reputation comes from the fact that it comes out at night — when Brits are sound asleep.
It’s also usually found in old buildings and houses, and it’s one of the largest house spiders in Britain with its chilling 12cm leg-span.
They’re called cardinal spiders because it’s said that Cardinal Wolsey, a close ally of King Henry VIII, was terrified by the species living in Hampton Court Palace.
While their venom isn’t the strongest, their huge size and nocturnal activity makes them particularly unsettling.
Marie Hind couldn’t walk when a spider bite left her with this gaping hole in her leg[/caption]
Shadow-dweller with a burning bite
Walnut orb-weaver spider
The walnut orb-weaver spider’s Latin name is “umbratica” which means “living in the shadows”.
That’s because these little critters are known for squeezing themselves into tiny holes and cracks and cracks in walls.
And like the cardinal spider, they only come out of their hiding places at night.
They have leathery skin and their bite is said to cause burning pain, swelling and numbing.
The pain of their bites has been described as ‘like an electric shock’.
How to treat a spider bite
Professor Adam Hart says:
“For bites the best thing to do is to try and not get bitten in the first place, but that is easier said than done!
Don’t scratch it! Take an antihistamine as recommended by your pharmacist.
Topical and oral remedies are usually looking to chemically reduce the effects of histamine that your body is producing in response to the bite. It is the histamine response that cause the swelling and itching and this is why such treatments are called “anti”-histamines.
Heat therapy treatment, such as bite away can work very quickly to relieve symptoms, especially itching. The heat causes a signal in the nerves around the site that interferes with the nerve signals that cause itching.”
Painful swelling and burning skin
Unlike many biting spider species, which tend to be found in the south, black lace-weaver spiders have been reported all over the UK.
They are known to bite people in surprise attacks, with their venom causing a dull pain which lasts for around 12 hours.
It will also cause swelling and redness, eventually giving way to blisters.
The black lace-weaver spider is one of the species where, after the young spiders hatch from their eggs, they eat their own mother.
Nasty sting with strange groin pain
Despite being a relatively recent spider to arrive in Britain, the wasp spider population has grown dramatically in the last 20 years.
And though their black and yellow stripes make them look like wasps, they’re much more terrifying than their flying namesake.
Like wasps, these spiders leave a nasty sting and when injected by their venom, the pain immediately moves to the victim’s groin.
Experts who study these colourful critters have been known to find them clustered together in hundreds, often in the south of England.
Giant house spider
The giant house spider is one of the biggest spiders and central and northern Europe — males can have legs measuring 7.5cm.
They can run really quickly and, as the name suggests, they’re most typically found inside houses and sheds, hiding between boxes in cellars and lofts.
Giant house spiders have been seen most commonly in the north of England and are one of the most venomous spiders in the country.
Although they prefer to run and hide when intimidated, giant house spiders have been known to bite people when cornered.
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Crippling pain and deadly bites
Noble false widow
The noble false widow is the most dangerous of all the spider species in the wild in Britain because of its powerful venom and huge population numbers.
They’ve been responsible for city-wide school closures because of the immense threat they pose — which in some cases has led to limbs being amputated and even death.
Although it’s thought they came to the south coast of Britain over 100 years ago, there have been recent sightings of noble false widows everywhere from Cornwall to Orkney.