Scaffolder suspects he was bitten by a false widow spider

Man in spider bite ordeal

Len Smith, with magnesium sulphate he was prescribed after he was bitten by what he believes was a false widow spider

A false widow spider, a species which is said to be spreading from the south of England

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

A SCAFFOLDER suspects he was bitten by a false widow spider – Britain’s “most venomous spider” – as he worked in York.

Len Smith, 57, suffered a poisonous bite on his stomach while working on a farm in Naburn.

The bite swelled up significantly, and despite having medical treatment took eight months to heal.

Mr Smith, of Winchester Avenue, off Poppleton Road, said he now believes the symptoms of his bite are consistent with the reaction caused by the venomous false widow spider, a breed which is reported to be spreading.

He said: “All spiders bite but that one is venomous.

“It was painful and sore and took a long time to heal up because the skin has been dissolved. It was really intense swelling and the skin split. I immediately went to the doctors.”

He said he now has a scar as a result of the bite last year, which had to be treated with iodine strips, magnesium suphate and antibiotics.

There has been a national increase of reported sightings of the venomous spider, but experts have reassured people the spider rarely bites and usually only if provoked. In York a number of sightings have been reported.

But Dr Geoff Oxford, vice-president of the British Arachnological Society and of the University of York’s biology department, said many people are confusing false widows with garden cross spiders, which are benign and common.

Dr Oxford said: “It is vitally important that the public photograph or catch what they think is a false widow spider and have it properly identified by an expert. If anyone is bitten by anything proper identification is even more crucial.”

The false widow spider, which is about the size of a 50p piece, was until recently found in the south-west.

Conservationists believe that changes in the climate could be encouraging the spider to make itself at home in new areas. The false widow spider has a striking bulbous abdomen, but it is brownish in colour rather than pitch black, usually with distinctive cream markings and reddish-orangey legs.

Symptoms of being bitten by a false widow spider include pain which can radiate along a limb, swelling and sometimes a fever. More serious symptoms have occasionally been reported.

A spokesman for the Natural History Museum said: “The species is now found in many parts of southern England. In some areas of south and south-east England it is now quite common at a local level... we’re expecting the species to continue to increase its distribution within the UK.”

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:04am Wed 16 Oct 13

smudge2 says...

I'm surprised a scaffolder had admitted to this.I bet his mates will rib him for this article.
I'm surprised a scaffolder had admitted to this.I bet his mates will rib him for this article. smudge2
  • Score: 14

9:11am Wed 16 Oct 13

JPJPJP says...

Sounds like he needs one of these Spider Catchers in his toolkit youtu.be/bplt2U81EzE
Sounds like he needs one of these Spider Catchers in his toolkit youtu.be/bplt2U81EzE JPJPJP
  • Score: -3

9:17am Wed 16 Oct 13

ShunGokuSatsu says...

smudge2 wrote:
I'm surprised a scaffolder had admitted to this.I bet his mates will rib him for this article.
He got bitten by the most venomous spider in England. That's a pretty good "you call that a scar?" story for the pub.
[quote][p][bold]smudge2[/bold] wrote: I'm surprised a scaffolder had admitted to this.I bet his mates will rib him for this article.[/p][/quote]He got bitten by the most venomous spider in England. That's a pretty good "you call that a scar?" story for the pub. ShunGokuSatsu
  • Score: 1

11:04am Wed 16 Oct 13

Halifaxbomber says...

Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,
Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included, Halifaxbomber
  • Score: -1

11:18am Wed 16 Oct 13

garethjv says...

Can we all go out and collect these cute spiders and drop them off at the next council meeting when they are discussing bridge closures / traffic management experiments?
Can we all go out and collect these cute spiders and drop them off at the next council meeting when they are discussing bridge closures / traffic management experiments? garethjv
  • Score: 11

11:19am Wed 16 Oct 13

garethjv says...

Halifaxbomber wrote:
Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,
I hope that's with the legs! It'd be the size of a tarantula otherwise!
[quote][p][bold]Halifaxbomber[/bold] wrote: Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,[/p][/quote]I hope that's with the legs! It'd be the size of a tarantula otherwise! garethjv
  • Score: -1

11:19am Wed 16 Oct 13

garethjv says...

Halifaxbomber wrote:
Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,
I hope that's with the legs! It'd be the size of a tarantula otherwise!
[quote][p][bold]Halifaxbomber[/bold] wrote: Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,[/p][/quote]I hope that's with the legs! It'd be the size of a tarantula otherwise! garethjv
  • Score: -4

11:19am Wed 16 Oct 13

garethjv says...

Halifaxbomber wrote:
Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,
I hope that's with the legs! It'd be the size of a tarantula otherwise!
[quote][p][bold]Halifaxbomber[/bold] wrote: Is that 50p with legs or 50p legs not included,[/p][/quote]I hope that's with the legs! It'd be the size of a tarantula otherwise! garethjv
  • Score: -5

1:38pm Wed 16 Oct 13

MrChuckles says...

http://elwellpress.w
ordpress.com/2013/10
/14/guest-post-the-f
alse-scourge-of-the-
false-widow/ If you are worried about Daily Mail-esque scare mongering! Read this for a nice reality check!
http://elwellpress.w ordpress.com/2013/10 /14/guest-post-the-f alse-scourge-of-the- false-widow/ If you are worried about Daily Mail-esque scare mongering! Read this for a nice reality check! MrChuckles
  • Score: 0

8:29am Thu 17 Oct 13

Davroshasissues says...

I bet the lads at work call him spiderman...remember Len, with great power comes great responsibility....
I bet the lads at work call him spiderman...remember Len, with great power comes great responsibility.... Davroshasissues
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree