Noble False Widow Spider

Steatoda nobilis – A first for me, and discovered in my bathroom, and narrowly avoided a toothbrush been hurled at it in the early hours by a startled family member. A distant cousin of the Black Widow, this is the largest of the 3 false widow spiders found in Britain, and the most notorious. This is the only non-native species of Steatoda, which was originally from the Canary Islands and Madeira, and it was first recorded in Torquay, Devon, in 1879. It is believed to have been imported with bananas, and it established a stronghold in the South West, particularly Devon. However in recent years Britain’s warmer climate has meant the spider has survived the winter in larger numbers, and it has been able to breed and spread northwards. 

Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis male

Seen throughout the year, and strongly synanthropic (living closely with human beings) it is most commonly found in and around commercial premises, including conservatories, public toilet blocks, garages and sheds, and in peoples homes.

Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis male

Over the years the Noble Black Widow has suffered hyped and inaccurate media claims and became notorious as a ‘killer spider’ causing harmful bites to humans. Although it can bite, it is usually in response to a threat, and it would be no different from a bee or wasp sting for the average person. That is not to say that some people may suffer an allergic reaction to a bite, or it may become infected. The false widow is one of only a dozen breeds of spider in Britain with powerful enough jaws and strong enough venom to pierce human skin and cause a reaction. The chance of a spider bite in Britain is very much less than a bee-sting or wasp-sting – or even of a dog bite – and the consequences are generally less severe. To note, no one has ever died of any kind of spider bite in the UK and the number of reported bites from spiders in general is minimal.

So if you do happen to see one on your bathroom floor, place a small plastic pot over it to contain it, slip a piece of cardboard underneath, and kindly evict it to the outside world.

Noble False Widow Steatoda nobilis male

WordPress have recently added a landing page when clicking on an image, so to view enlarged, click back off the landing page, click again, and another click will get you even closer if you are feeling brave today.

To note, after querying this with WordPress and how it may affect photographers and artists, or anybody with an image focused blog, the boffins are looking at ways of adding a zoom when in the landing page area to save on all that finger clicking.

18 thoughts on “Noble False Widow Spider

  1. “Hyped and inaccurate media claims”? Say it isn’t so! This is an interesting post, and a fine cautionary note about the presumed dangers of many critters. Some, like our asp caterpillars and their kin, are truly dreadful, and seem to affect everyone — they need to be avoided at all costs. But like your spider, many are simply going about their business with no intention of causing harm to humans. If we keep out of their way, they’ll generally stay out of ours.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A fortunate spider to have ended up in your home and suffering no ill-effects from what could have been a well aimed toothbrush! I found this information very interesting; thank you for sharing it – and for the caution: spiders too have their place in the oft quoted ‘web of life’!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have made myself a little unfamiliar with some spider groups on Facebook. There has been a little bit too much discussion about spider phobia and dangerous spiders. This is wrong as the idea with the groups is to inform about the spiders’ biology and behaviors. Personally, I think it is better to go to school early and tell about all our useful insects and spiders. I am aware that our stone age brain does not really understand this and many people react instinctively, but development must still be able to move forward. Especially as we do not have any “dangerous” spiders in Europe. By the way, fantastic photos. Just a question, did you use flash? Namely, I think I see two white eyes, which made me confused.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I first saw the ‘false widow’ in the title, I thought ‘Oof!’ That one of these had made it into your house. I remember reading with horror several years ago about the influx of these ‘terrifying and dangerous’ spiders making their way across the British Isles. Now I’m no spider fan as you know, but I have learned to tolerate them. The more educated we are, the less we should believe the hype and scare stories. Eight legged visitors in this house ( the big ones anyway) get carefully evicted- even a false widow if we found one. No squishing here. Thanks for the information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My son really hates spiders, and dosen’t even want to look at them on screen, and this is despite the fact I brought him up with them from a young age. At least he respects them, and never kills them … he normallly shouts for me or his mom … and he is 19 lol! I am pleased you don’t squish them there. It is all about education as you say, and this in all animals of the natural world.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As you know, I’m another arachnophile, and I enthusiastically support all our efforts to educate folks and defuse the appalling amount of misinformation about spiders. Every little bit helps, and this provides more of those good bits.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fear the toothbrush! How can something be noble and false at the same time? 🙂 I think a lot of arachnophobia is learned and not natural. Something must have happened that caused a person to be fearful of them. OTOH, being watched by two eyes, or four in my case, can unnerve some folks. Eight might just be too much. My favorite arachnosong. The chorus really should have had four members. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is all down to understanding them. I never used to like flies when I was young, and had a stomach churning aversion to seeing their larvae. All this was down to hearing stories of them getting inside people and animals feeding on them. But now, after some knowledge and understanding I find them most fascinatingly diverse, and some are even quite handsome in appearance.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting additions to our fauna! I often saw them when I was living on the south coast but this summer I spotted one for the first time in my North Downs village. They are large and dramatic by British spider standards, and of course the media have really had a field day with their name. It is always difficult for conservationists to overcome the tsunami of misinformation in the press. But they are to black widows what goldfish are to sharks.

    Liked by 1 person

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