False widow spider bites is a topic that has been raised a few times on our first aid training courses, particularly our paediatric first aid courses. There has been many reports, most including horrific pictures of the resulting “injuries”, about people in the United Kingdom that have been bitten by the false widow spider.
The spider can be recognised by their shiny, black bulbous bodies, thick legs and a skull like pattern on the “back’. Whilst the spider has been in the UK since the late 1800s, there is an increasing number of reports of spiders bites and according to Stuart Hines of the Natural History Museum’s Identification and Advisory Service, they account for the most reported spider bites in the UK.
The false widow spider is probably implicated in so many bites, due to sharing our habitat and an increased knowledge of its distinctive appearance. It is however commonly mis-identified.
If you, or someone with you, is unfortunate enough to be bitten, try not to panic! According to Stuart Hines, no one in the UK has died from a spider bite. Most of the horrific images are caused by secondary problems such as bacterial infections.
You can check the signs and symptoms using the NHS website, but obviously if you are concerned you should seek medical advice.