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back to article Swollen Reg reader recounts FALSE WIDOW spider HORROR

Our report yesterday on the inexorable spread of the false widow spider - an unwelcome immigrant to Blighty's shores which targets guinea pigs and horror-hungry newspaper editors - prompted one Reg reader to protest that the killer arachnid really does pose a threat to those unfortunate enough to cross its path. Nicola Baker, …

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That looks like multiple bites

While the false widow is an obvious candidate, you can get a similar ugly picture from a centipede.

A centipede is more likely to bite several times in close vicinity (you usually get just one nip from a spider). The bites can be quite nasty too because the venom causes local tissue necrosis around the bite. The last time I got bitten by one it took more than a month to heal properly.

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That's not a false widow.

The pic is not of a false widow. False widows have a bulbous rear end. I'm no entomologist, or whatever they call spider worriers, but the pic looks very much like it's a bog standard house spider.

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My thoughts exactly.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/news/2013/october/is-it-or-isnt-it-false-widow-spider-update124607.html

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Re: My thoughts exactly.

looking at your link the spider in the article looks pretty much a total match for steatoda nobilis (in the bottom right corner of the set of four pics) which is exactly the spider in question. The steatoda grossa (a native British spider, also frequently called a false widow as many in the family are, or cupboard spider) has a much more pronounced abdomen like widow spiders.

We had one (S. Nobilis) living in a gap behind a cable run in our bathroom for 3 months this year. You would only see it at night when it would leave the cubby hole & sit in it's almost completely invisible scaffold web on the ceiling above the sink. We didn't bother it & it didn't bother us. It decided to move and one night ran across my foot, while I was sitting in the lounge, on a journey behind the TV.

I have never seen it again despite looking hard in case the cats decided to pick a fight with it. Maybe they already did & it lost?

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Stop

Re: That's not a false widow.

Yeah I think you will find its a male spider in the picture. The female is bulbous at the back and looks almost a different species.

I had (probably still have) a colony Steatoda Grossa in my garage , all females that I noticed, they same shape but different markings on their back. Took a bunch of pictures of them until i realised what they were and went on a crusade to get rid of them. That was 18+ months ago before they made the headlines.

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Boffin

Re: That's not a false widow.

It is a male false widow, the females have more bulbous abdomens, upto a max of about 50p piece size. House spiders (Tegenaria species, 3 in this country and difficult to tell apart without specialist knowledge and a microscope) are more hairy/less shiny and a variable grey colour (though again the males are less wide at the rear than the ladies).

We have loads of these lovelies in our car port. Despite me going out to take photos, for some inexplicable reason these vicious killers seem more inclined to run away from me than kill me. Very light sensitive too, especially the bigger ones. Get a torch on them and they scuttle back into their holes.

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Re: That's not a false widow.

Shouldn't the male be a false widower?

And why give this story to El Reg when the Daily Star would put it on the front page?

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Re: That's not a false widow.

You're right in saying it's not a false widow, but "bog-standard" spiders can give you quite a nasty nip, too - I've been bitten twice; their venom must be similar to a wasp's sting because I suffered a similar reaction - my hand (on the first occasion - I was attempting to coerce one out the bathroom window with the usual glass-and-card 'trap' when it crawled up my hand - my right hand (and I'm right-handed; I used to be left-handed when I was little, but the nuns at school forced me to use my right because, obviously, the left hand is the "devil's hand". I always thought this odd because we were also told, several times a day, that "the devil makes work for idle hands" and, if he favours the left over the right - because god controls the right hand - wouldn't it make sense to keep the left occupied...? Or did they think we might write satanic verses...?) which swelled up to at least 3 times its usual size and referred me unable to write with it for over a month (my left-hand has improved, but I'm by no means ambidextrous yet...). The second time was my left hand as I put my hand on it as I was adjusting the temperature of the showerhead - and I'll tell ya summat - it fucking HURTS!

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Coat

Re: That's not a false widow.

If it's not a false widow, is it a false false widow?

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IT Angle

sounds like our legendary white tailed spider

claimed to cause local necrosis in susceptible victims that can last for months along bitten limb. Whatever, the redbacks are unusually big this year in SE NSW. Co-incidence or select from AGW|climatechange|CIA|Tony Abbot|labour government|sign of the times ?

Oz, great country with many great horrors

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Urban Myth

I remember similar stories when I was in Oz 20 years ago. Since then, the 'necrosis' legend has turned out to be an urban myth. See http://www.australasian-arachnology.org/myths/white-tailed-spider/

It reminds me of the 'aggressive Grey Nurse shark" phobia in the 1970s which Ron and Val Taylor campained against at the time. It turned out that they were right all along. Grey Nurse sharks were, in fact, very timid.

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Re: sounds like our legendary white tailed spider

"Oz, great country with many great horrors"

I heard a rumour, -it may have been an urban legend- that there was an animal in Australia that wasn't incredibly scary and likely to enslave humanity.

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Re: sounds like our legendary white tailed spider

"I heard a rumour, -it may have been an urban legend- that there was an animal in Australia that wasn't incredibly scary and likely to enslave humanity"

"Some of the Sheep" (Pterry)

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Re: sounds like our legendary white tailed spider

The ones that didn't appear in the documentary "Black Sheep" ?

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Boffin

Re: Urban Myth

the Brown recluse spider bite here in the USA, can produce necrosis. I know, 'cos I have had it...! Really frightening at the time... I have read that its bite contains not just a toxin but a bacterial milieu that causes the necrosis.

As for this spider, I have search a bit on line and I cannot find the molecular structure for the venom, or even what functional groups it may have. Some vague "its an acid"...

We seriously need to DNA sequence many more creatures because at the very least, we can have an objective way of knowing what an organism is rather than shape... and about its biochemistry...

P.

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Anonymous Coward

Nasty!

Hope you make a quick recovery.

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Anonymous Coward

Looking at the ankle I'm not sure how much the foot has been "embiggened" by spider bite or that other pest, Victus quod Laganum

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A foot-loving pedant writes...

Can we see a picture of the other foot, for comparison purposes?

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Gah! It's turning into the bloody Daily Mail here.

In perspective:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8855924/Deaths-from-bee-stings-chair-falls-and-boiling-water.html

.

Now what is this twearking that this Miley Cirus is doing?

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Re: Gah! It's turning into the bloody Daily Mail here.

No, the Yorkshire Post is far more effective, one good clout and it's spinning a heavenly web.

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Trollface

Well

Lads, I got stung by a mosquito on the ankle once, pustule opened up, got foot infection and amazingly LARGE and PAINFUL swelling, doc pumped me full of antibiotics which the bacterium just laughed at, luckily the reserve antibiotic worked, out of order for a week, then got a reduced bill because of "free healthcare" (but I'm ok with that). Dodged a bullet there.

Don't go outside, Nature wants to KILL YOU!

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Re: Well

screw it. we have chainsaws and flame throwers.

bring it on, nature.

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Re: Well

Don't forget your electric racket for killing mosquitoes and other insects. Mine is something like this one, but uses D cell bateries: http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Creations-JB5285-Electronic-Zapper/dp/B000EPPFEC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1385757051&sr=8-6&keywords=electric+racket

Btw, to the author: puffer fish can't poison you unless you eat them. So unless you encounter one trying to suicide by becoming sushi you should be safe. :-)

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Re: Well

Surprised no one's punted this out already - mosquitoes don't sting, they bite and, depending where you are in the world, you're probably more likely to have midges, rather than mosquitoes, as the latter tend to favour tropical climes - we don't, to the best of my knowledge, have mosquitoes here in Blighty.

A sting is associated with a creature with venom which, obviously, comes from somewhere other than its mouth; mossies and midges don't have mouths. The reaction is caused by histamines attacking the protein used to prevent coagulation.

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Re: Well

mosquitoes don't sting, they bite

Is it possible to bite without teeth?

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Re: Well

> we don't, to the best of my knowledge, have mosquitoes here in Blighty.

We have loads and loads and loads of them. They breed in water butts and garden ponds up and down the country, and bite people all summer long.

We even have the ones that carry malaria, but fortunately they don't tend to live long enough to bite two people (or something.)

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Spiders normally only bite once

A spider has to expend so much energy making venom that they only bite when threatened.

The Tarantula for instance usually just waves its front legs to scare off potential predators, and will bite as a last resort.

As this poor lady's foot shows multiple bites I'd guess either centipede or ants, or she was unlucky enough to be biten by several spiders, one of which then hid in the waste basket to take the rap whilst the rest of the family moved to cause havoc elsewhere.

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Re: Spiders normally only bite once

"The Tarantula for instance usually just waves its front legs to scare off potential predators, and will bite as a last resort".

And flick urticaring hairs at you. My mate breeds em. You really dont want a face full of them, its like using fibreglass as a sponge.

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Re: Spiders normally only bite once

"You really dont want a face full of them, its like using fibreglass as a sponge."

So that's where I've been going wrong with my skincare routine!

*breaks out asbestos lump to remove dead skin*

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Your mate

Your mate breeds urticating hairs? And then uses them on you as a fiberglass sponge?

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"Doubtless cynical readers will claim this discovery is purely coincidental"

Actually I doubt it was the blue ringed octopus. They are from the pachific and Indian Oceans

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Re: "Doubtless cynical readers will claim this discovery is purely coincidental"

It might have been that newly discovered species of pygmy cuttlefish, which was shown to have a venom as lethal as the blue-ringed octopus. After biting, it then camoflagues its skin, as cuttlefish do, to look like a false widow in the bottom of a trash can.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: "Doubtless cynical readers will claim this discovery is purely coincidental"

Agreed. The Portuguese Man o' War is a much more likely candidate.

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Happy

Re: "Doubtless cynical readers will claim this discovery is purely coincidental"

The Portuguese Man o' War is a much more likely candidate.

Hey man! That was some really vicious punch at the party last night. My head is killing me...

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Re: "Doubtless cynical readers will claim this discovery is purely coincidental"

Most likely it was one of these critters what done it!

SD

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Happy

Re: "Doubtless cynical readers will claim this discovery is purely coincidental"

that is quite likely PMOW sting is horrendous and for once, not a horror unique to Oz. One stung my daughter across cheek. Her face swelled to 1.5 times normal size. Local dive master had vinegar and second doctor arranged for assorted drugs that are normally associated with sports droids. He knew his stuff. as they worked to bring swelling down to merely large. First doc was the classic take 2 aspirin type. Now how did jelly fish migrate across land to bite landlubber in article ? Or was it dropped by startled gull ?

As for white tailed spiders, myth or not, I have run across a couple of people adamant they had necrosis from a spider bite. Given that half Oz insects are estimated to be undescribed, who knows what bit whom. It is also possible some of the claimed cases were undiagnosed diabetic ulcers infected after an insect bite.

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Black Helicopters

The best spider sighting was in my local rag: it had a picture of a "false window" sitting in the middle of a perfectly respectable orb web. *cough*

Like other posters, I suspect Nicola wasn't bitten by a spider. My mum got bitten by an "insect" on holiday in the Isle of Wight and her leg all but exploded. It took over a week and lots of antibiotics to put her straight; if the blood suckers have been feeding on shit then you're in trouble. So, Nicola, what you need to do is start breeding false windows in order to keep the mosquitoes under control.

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It _was_ a false widow

Trapped in an Araneus diadematus' web, no doubt. Come to think of it, probably a blue-ringed octopus masquerading as A. diadematus, too.

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Me too

I'm feeling like I could use a nap and I'm pretty sure I saw a spider in my eucalyptus last week. Must be it.

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Headmaster

If the victim is male and the spider the genuine "Widow"................

...........it would not have been just the foot that exhibited swelling. Sufferers experience an extremely painful degree of priapism for which the only real treatment is bed-rest and repeated applications of ice -packs.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't look anything like a spider bite

Looks like a bog standard allergic reaction. Could have been anything from a False Widow to a flea bite.

I haven't yet seen a single False Widow related story where the spider has been identified by someone who knows what they're talking about or where the injury has been identified by someone who knows what they're talking about.

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Re: Doesn't look anything like a spider bite

"I haven't yet seen a single False Widow related story where the spider has been identified by someone who knows what they're talking about or where the injury has been identified by someone who knows what they're talking about."

I'm not disputing your statement. It is saying that really, you need:

- video evidence that the initial bite was that of a spider

- spider captured so it can be correctly identified as said spider species

- analysis of whether afflicted human maybe prone to an allergic reaction

- spider health check to see if its not carrying any bacteria

- person health check to ensure their hygiene habits may not be conducive to infection

Basically you saying causal association of getting a major inflammation where person had none before and visual identification of "similar" looking spider is not sufficient, regardless of the number of occurrences.

I understand.

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@Pahhh

Actually if you are seeking medical treatment for Steatodism it does help to bring the, doubtless now squished, spider with you to prove that you're not suffering from something else that can cause a severe allergic reaction.

The venom of a Steatoda is a neurotoxin not a necrotic agent. Seeing a spider that was in a different part of the house at the time of the bite/sting is not sufficient to identify the symptoms as being from a Steatoda bite.

As has been said, these guys usually bite once as a defensive measure and certainly S.Nobilis doesn't hang around in tight groups because they tend to kill each other if they get too close to each other's territory.

The most common house centipede, S.coleoptrata, stings with it's legs so you're likely to get more than one sting from one of these guys. Their venom also causes more localised pain and swelling without the neurotoxic effects of the Steatodae.

So, yes, unless you see the spider that bit you it's usually guesswork.

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i`d remove a false widow from my house with the wd-40 and lighter technique

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Mushroom

What in the Fernswarthy makes you think it's a good idea?

let alone necessary... you'd really risk setting stuff on fire to get rid of a largely harmless critter (most likely wrongly identified to begin with)?

OTOH, setting stuff on fire IS fun, I'll give you that.

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Re: What in the Fernswarthy makes you think it's a good idea?

its the good thing about wd-40, the flame is not hot enough to set things on fire except for fluff, and weird insects you spend a few minutes looking at trying to work out what it is, so you burn it just to make sure

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Coat

The big question is

why did she step in the waste paper basket in the first place?

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