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.
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.
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.
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.