Not a fan of spiders? We have some bad news for you.
Sightings of the much-feared false widow spider have been increasing, and the eight-legged creature who’s normally confined to the south coast is now turning up elsewhere in England.
And it looks fucking terrifying.
Apparently the most venous spider in UK is stuck in my window.
Is it a False Widow Spider? Can I kill it with fire? pic.twitter.com/j5aalgeNui
— Cristiano Maia (@criscmaia) August 14, 2016
The species has a fearsome reputation as one of the few British spiders capable of inflicting a painful bite to humans.
But while, like almost all spiders, its bite is venomous, it almost exclusively has a mild effect on humans, and most bites result in symptoms similar to a bee or wasp sting, the Daily Star reports.
This doesn’t mean that every spider lurking in your back garden is a false widow, though.
Pretty sure I have a false black widow spider just chilling about half a metre away from me.
— Jen Hart (@MissJenHart) August 20, 2016
Lying in bed minding my own business then a false widow spider crawls past my head 😳😷😷😷#nahhhhh
— mac demarcus (@marcussmith1994) August 24, 2016
The real false widows have orange legs and a brown bulbous body with cream coloured markings that are often likened to the shape of a skull – which is fitting for a spider that looks like something out of your nightmares.
Experts say the species, which is believed to have arrived in Britain via a cargo transporter from the Canary Islands over 100 years ago, are not normally aggressive towards humans and bites are rare. However, if the spiders are caught in clothing, prodded or stepped on they may attack.
Symptoms of a false widow bite can include swelling, pins and needles and minor chest pains, according to Tony Wileman, a conservation ecologist at the London Wildlife Trust.
There have been no reported deaths in the UK resulting from false widow spider bites. But, there have been a number of reported incidents where people have had severe reactions and required hospital treatment.
If you’re bitten, the best thing to do is wash it with cool, soapy water and seek medical attention, according to reports.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that it is very rare for bites to become serious. So if you find one, don’t panic – when in doubt, call pest control.