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Chris Whiting


The UK's 'Killer Spider Epidemic' Is Nothing To Fear

Posted: 14/10/2013 18:01

Running Into Your Ex

Recently, the British media has been in a frenzy (when are they ever not?), over the apparent surge in the UK population of the false widow spider. Several newspapers, particularly the Daily Star have been running stories about the spiders attacking and severely injuring unsuspecting citizens. Typically, people up and down the country are now petrified of this new frontier of deadly arachnids, because quite simply, they're being sold a bunch of striking lies.

Here's what the media has been saying about the false widow spider and with it, the truth;

  • "The false widow spiders can kill humans"
No one in the UK has ever died from a false widow bite, in fact, no spider of any sub-species has every killed a human being on these shores. Even so, the false widow spider isn't even likely to attack unless provoked.
  • "The false widows have recently landed in the UK"
Incorrect. False widow spiders have actually inhabited Britain for over 100 years. Scientists suspect that climate change is the major contributor to their modestly swelling population.
  • "They are extremely venomous"
Again, a misconception. The false widow's bite is usually only dangerous to those who are allergic to its venom. Otherwise, it would have a similar effect to that of a bee sting.
  • "They are engulfing the entire nation"
Now, it's true that false widows are commonly spotted in the south of the country. There have been a fair few sightings in Essex, Hampshire and London for example, but north of Birmingham, sightings of the species are very much a rarity.
  • "Now the winter is here, the false widows are coming in to our houses"
This is partly true. Apparently, false widow spiders don't like houses but prefer sheds, conservatories, garages and places of the like. So, while they are moving indoors now the temperatures are dropping, don't expect to be sharing a bed with one any time soon.

In honesty, this pandemic really is nothing to worry about. It's just the media's way of selling papers, by preying on an already common fear in arachnophobia. Has anyone noticed that they never report that twelve people are actually killed by bees and wasps every year? That's because people aren't usually fearful of bees. Maybe, when the entire nation recovers from the swine flu we all contracted back in 2009, we can focus on this 'killer' spider problem, that's assuming we're all not wiped out by yet another 'killer' freeze this winter...

Also on HuffPost UK Lifestyle

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  • "Pastry. I really, really hate pastry." Jessica Elgot, reporter, HuffPost UK

  • "Clowns." Matt Tucker, deputy picture editor, HuffPost UK

  • "Bananas. The smell. The shape. The taste. This culminated in being chased around the house with one in boarding school, running into my room and slamming the door shut...with the banana caught in the door and half of it dropping onto my bare feet. There were tears." Sara Nelson, traffic and trends editor, HuffPost UK

  • "Lemon curd. I kid you not." Medhi Hasan, political director, HuffPost UK

  • "Toothbrushes." Sam Parker, culture editor, HuffPost UK

  • "Hair on men's feet." Felicity Morse, editorial assistant news, HuffPost UK

  • "The sound of Velcro." Ashley Percival, celebrity editorial assistant, HuffPost UK

  • "I know someone who has a phobia of gnomes - I'm not joking." Tahira Mirza, assistant picture editor

  • "Chickens, particularly cockerels. Was attacked by one when I was four." Charlie Thomas, business reporter, HuffPost UK

  • "I'm scared of sticky fingers..." Gigi Garcia, HuffPost UK Lifestyle reader

  • "I can't go within 100 metres of custard." Caroline Frost, entertainment editor, HuffPost UK

  • "Heavily-pregnant women, especially when they are walking down stairs or in heels...I can't look." Sarah Dean, assistant entertainment editor, HuffPost UK

  • "Nails on a blackboard. * shudder *" Matt Tucker, deputy picture editor

  • "Two friends of mine (they don't know each other) have a genuine phobia about buttons." Jody Thompson, blogs editor, HuffPost UK

  • "I really, really don't like being able to see bits of people's bodies under their skin? Like the veins in wrists, weird ligament stringy bits at the backs of people's knees etc. GROSS." Alice Vincent, blogs editorial assistant


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