back to article Black widows: Coming soon to a kitchen sink near you

Arachnophobes look away now: The UK is becoming an attractive home for "exotic" spider species which, due to our increasingly benign climate, have decided to put down permanent roots in this Sceptred Isle. According to the BBC, the invasion forces arrive in food and plant imports and no longer have to suffer cold snaps which …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And so all the hippies reap the whirlwind...

    That'll larn 'em to go munching pesticide-free organo-ponce produce.

  2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    ah, the black widow

    An acquaintance was bit by one back about 40 years ago in Colorado. It was no fun at all, and I think put him in the hospital then. Yet he lives on...

  3. Master Baker


    The government will soon be using this eight-legged threat to help prop-up their continuing fight for ID cards.

    "But people, without ID cards [for spiders] we cannot control eight-legged immigration into this country. British jobs are at stake, how can we control spider trrrrrrrrism.... blah blah"

    The government cannot control immigration into this country of human-sized objects - how can this report of insect migration come as a suprise?

    Oh-er, my spider sense is tingling.... as the actor said to the cabinet minister...

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Who cares

    Yeah, but we know that these mild winters are just a statistical error made by NASA and also the greatest hoax by government scientists ever to blight mankind's future, so these pest must be too, right? No need to worry.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I for one welcome...

    Tbh I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing.

    Clearly the devil-insect threat will be limited to enslaving all southern nancys.

    Then the only thing us lot from the grim north will have to fear are the roaming packs of reintroduced man-eating wolves etc.

  6. Jan

    There is only one black Widow...

    ... and her name is Natasha Kerensky of Clan Wolf.

    mine is the Elemental Armor, thank you.

  7. petebog

    I for one..

    ..welcome our new 8 legged iridescencent green jawed aggressive jumping arachnid overlords.

  8. Vaughan

    Black Widows

    ...are apparently already established in Sweden so there's no doubt at all as to whether or not they could survive a British winter. I see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. Once the nuclear power station building programme gets under way super powers are but a bite away.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the jungle ...

    The tube spider, and its behaviour, sounds a lot like the Funnel Web spider - nasty little bastards that like nothing better than to crawl into boots, washing baskets and behind doors. The most venomous (and often lethal) variety of funnel web lives only within 160km of Port Jackson ...... for the uninitiated, that's the centre of Sydney. Placing Australia's most populous city smack bang in the middle of the world's most poisonous spider habitat was a moment of pure genius.

    But hey, you Brits have had it easy for far too long. Just wait 'till it gets warm enough for the veritable smorgasbord of poisonous and aggressive ants to take root .....

  10. Yorkshirepudding

    oh dear

    i think i speak for most aracnaphobes in saying

    DO NOT WANT!!!!!11

  11. Max

    Bah. Easy solution. !!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    "False" widow spider?

    So, why's it called a "false" widow?

    Is it's husband still alive and merely /pretending/ to have drowned in a canoeing accident?

    Mine's the one with the .... YEOWCH WTFJUSTBITME? in the pockets!

  13. GrahamT
    Black Helicopters

    That's the last time...

    ..I pick up spider and take it outside. Rolled up newspaper for the little buggers from now on - especially if they rear up and flash their fangs at me.

    (hence flattened bug icon)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    clean up now

    Or you'll end up like the united snakes:

    ash borer - killing off all native hardwood ash.

    chestnut blight - exterminated native chestnut.

    starlings - pest bird

    blackbird - pest bird

    zebra mussel - pest mollusc

    and on, and about some nice tarantulas?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    at least they aren't centipedes

    Deadly Centipedes!

    Paris >- She's seen a few legs in here time!

  16. beast666


    I don't like creepy crawlies so I find this all very alarming. I must say though that having spent some time in Hawaii (Which has no indigenous poisonous animals or plants) that many types of ants however have made their way to the islands from shipping etc and are a menace... You get some types that are very tiny but swarm in their thousands out of the tiniest gaps in your hotel, or you get big MFing dudes with huge jaws that climb around your room slowly but, menacingly. Hawaii has very strict rules regarding importing foreign species in foodstuffs, luggage etc and I think we should follow them here... Still, won't work tho, but you gotta try!

  17. Anonymous Coward


    more bugs than you can shake a copy of Linux at.....

    now how can we twist this to blame vista !!!

  18. Nigel Wright

    I bet a size 10 Doc Marten will put paid to them though


  19. Alex

    they are already here

    having been contending with woodlouse eating spiders and their bites for a few years here in Wiltshire I have now built up an aggressive and merciless approach to all things eight legged, Imagine my surprise when locking up the front door only to see what I instantly thought "oh my lucky stars, that's a black widow just emerging from the skirting" this was rapidly followed up by a frenzied and unrelenting attack during which the eight legged offender was ground into the floor, the skirting and part of it was on the wall.

    how on earth can blackbirds or starlings be pests?

  20. beast666

    ... and rats

    Bloody pests... In Hawaii (and prolly elsewhere) thats why you need them metal bands around palm trees to stop them climbing the trunks and nesting in the trees and gnawing thru coconuts, palm fuits etc and bombarding those below...

  21. Anonymous Coward

    found those critters in my flat :(

    Was looking around trying to identify the freaky spiders in my flat and found out it was the false widow a few months back. So they have made it as far as Bognor Regis then :P and they have been around for the past 18 months.

    I do not want the ants, that idea really freaks me out, like thousands of little spiders *shudder*

    burn the insects, burn them all.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe it might be nice to have something as poisonous as our politicians join us here.

    Problem though - Bill Baily won't be able to use his "Well, a badger can give you a nasty nip" joke any more. I think I will train the squirrels that live next door to kill foreign spiders in return for nuts.

    Mine's the one with copies of "Part Troll", "Dr Doolittle" and a large bag of mixed nuts in the pocket...

  23. beast666

    @Nigel Wright

    Hmmm, try your size 10 squashing a swarm of hundreds of 2-4 mm sized ants... You kill hundreds, but the rest will cling to your Docs and then proceed to swarm up your legs and give you that ole 'ants in your pants feeling.' Not nice!

    I suggest leaving such beasties well alone until you can get your hands on some very non-PC chemicals.

    You'll thank me for this advice one day...

  24. Paul

    It's quite possible I'm sure

    Black Widows and those other nasty buggers, the Brown Recluse, are quite capable of surviving the winters here in SW Virginia, which get every bit as cold as they can in the UK.

    So I don't doubt they could gain a foothold over there. If you see a big messy tangled web in the corner of your shed, it's time to fetch the flamethrower!

  25. breakfast Silver badge

    What's for dinner

    My recollection ( possibly inaccurate ) was that in the wild Black Widows mostly eat scorpions. Presumably we'll be getting a whole lot more of those living here for them to feed on?

  26. mike

    Old hat...

    Here in South Africa widow spiders (button spiders, locally) are par for the course. I've got a depression in my thigh from one of the bastards, or something similar - muscle got eaten away by bite, then came out as pus and othe nasties after the whole thigh went a nice bright soft-tissue-infection red.

    My dad had an even worse bite (thigh, again) which still looked horrendous 3 months after the event (when I first saw it). He was in bed with fever for a few days, and a clump of tissue 'fell out' - my mom's words, and she's a nurse. Hope and pray they don't make it up there to you...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    I for one...

    have yet to find one of these 8-legged overlords which can withstand the robust arguments of Mr.Shoe.

    And in these dark times of financial meltdown, boson wrangling and spider invasion, may i please request a new series of DoomWatch.

  28. Erik Aamot
    IT Angle

    O' da DaNgEr !

    wth? .. I've regularly seen real Black Widow spiders in US .. about weekly here in Southern California .. not to mention hiking in the local mountains seeing Tarantula, which I kept as a pet ... Rattlesnakes common as well ..

    Wussie Black Bears ... less wussie Coyotes are at least a threat to smaller dogs .. Mountain Lions around but haven't spotted anything but tracks in hills above Los Angeles .. at least they have killed a few people over the last 20 years here and represent a tiny, tiny risk ...

    I can see all you Brit IT guys checking around your desks for spiders today though .. very funny

  29. Joe


    I hate spiders, no issue with normal one's I live in peace with them but any creature that can bite/sting/poison should be exterminated. I may move to the antarctic to be out of the way of these evil things. Who's with me?

    The picture? Well, penguins live in the Antarctic...

  30. Daniel Wilkie


    I echo the comments about the woodlouse spiders, they ended my previously benevolent reign.

    From now on I will be purging with fire, just to be on the safe side!

    Nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!

  31. Geoff Webber

    things that go bump in the night

    A few nights ago i was woken by something crawling over my face.

    In one swift move I grabbed whatever it was and lobbed it across the room.

    The most disconcerting thing about the whole event was the clunk as whatever it was hit the radiator 4 feet away......

    I was once stung on the tonguw by a wasp that had climbed into my bottle of beer when I wasnt looking.

    Not sure If i fancy being bitten in the mouth whilst sleeping.

  32. Peyton

    @doc martens

    Black widows actually like dark places, so your Docs are what can get you into trouble in the first place, i.e., when you go slip them on and the spider that's recently moved in decides to give your foot a telling off. Nasty stuff. They can be quite small as well making them even harder to spot. They're not an aggressive species, but still - sorry to hear you guys may have to put up with them.

  33. Yagotta B. Kidding
    Black Helicopters

    Bunch of wimps

    Black widows are nothing special. They're native here and no problem at all as long as they don't have any insects to eat. That's really easy; just keep all vegetation away from residences. Sand and gravel for ten meters or so around the house (plus fanatical housekeeping indoors) does the trick nicely.

    As for starlings being pests, you're welcome to a few North American mockingbirds and you can find out for yourselves. I don't think the Gila woodpeckers would like the climate, so there'd be nothing with enough attitude to keep them subdued. Mockingbirds also like to eat black widows for a plus, although they prefer birds eggs and fledgelings. We don't have any crows or ravens here; I credit the mockingbirds for keeping them under control.

  34. Mark

    re: And so all the hippies reap the whirlwind...

    Which only became a problem because of neocon right wing nutjobs DEMANDING an SUV to port their fat arse to work each day "because I have children and their safety is my number one priority". Not "LOOK AT MY BIG CAR!!!!".

  35. mike
    Thumb Down

    Re: pestilential birds

    If dealing with birds - ever heard a hadeda/sacred Ibis? Crows sound positively delightful in comparison. Especially when they (hadeda) nest outside your bedroom window and get up with the sun at 4am.

    Our fruit gets eaten in the kitchen by starlings that hop in through open windows - and they've crapped on the windowsill, carpet and fabric sofa.

    Still, their bite doesn't atrophy...

  36. Tsu Dho Nimh

    Black Widows eat crickets, etc.


    Black widows eat crickets, woodlice, pillbugs and other ground-crawling insects. They live in cluttered areas, like garden sheds and cellars.

    The best defense against them is ecological: minimizing the prey species and the cluttered areas minimizes the chances of encountering one. They have predators - most spider-eating wasps can successfully attack a black widow, as can mantids.

    The bite is definitely NO FUN!

  37. Chris

    Surely the correct thing to do is... a state of the art containment facillity, at great expense to British taxpayers, where they can live with their familes (before escaping) until the government gets around to sending the back to where they came from.

    Mine's the one with forged passport in the pocket.

  38. Dangermouse

    Pest Molluscs?

    My back lawn is covered in the little fuckers.

  39. RW

    Put the government in the containment facility

    And then lock the doors, unplug the ethernet cable and telephone, turn on the cellphone jammer and let Gordon and Jacqui do whatever it is they do with each other to their heart's content without troubling the rest of Britain with their endless micromanagement, nanny-state, Stasi-isms.

    Anybody got a bag of black widows to pour in through the vents to add piquancy to the experiment?

    Special bonus nonsense for those of you prone to poltico-arachnological nightmares: Mad scientist hybridizes Jacqui Smith with the black widow spider. If you don't do what she says toot sweet, she bites you.

  40. Thomas Baker


    Keep thick, stiff gardening/ranch-hand style gloves in a safe place. Whenever you go anywhere you think there might be spiders, put 'em on. In the garage, garden, dusty cupboards, loft/attic, underneath anything that hasn't moved in a while - i.e. the missus. That way if you encounter anything, it can't hurt you and you can just squash it with your fingers or retreat and get the shotgun out. Snipe-nose pliers work well for black widows too, watch that fat black body burst!

    Advice not applicable to retards.

    Penguin because clearly not enough birds eat spiders... I mean c'mon, they're just hanging there more often than not, it's like lunch on a line, get on with it.

  41. Graham Marsden

    Did anyone else...

    ... read this as "Black WiNdows" and got really puzzled...?

  42. J

    Re: I for one...

    "have yet to find one of these 8-legged overlords which can withstand the robust arguments of Mr.Shoe."

    Problem is, many of them love to go *inside* Mr. Shoe, so look out for that... In countryside Brazil we quickly learn (in my case, the easy way) to vigorously shake/beat your shoes/boots in the morning before putting them on. Snakes, spiders, etc.... Boatloads of fun critters.

  43. Jon Tocker

    "the black widow - a spider which can kill with the merest glance"

    "Brazilian Adventure" got it wrong. As every afficionado of Billy Connolly can tell you: the Australian Funnel Web spider is the "only spider in the world that can kill ya just by fuckin' lookin' at ya."

    AFAIK, the Black Widow is a close relative of the Aussie "redback" and the New Zealand "katipo" spiders. Very nasty bite - not usually lethal unless you're allergic to the toxin, very young or very old, but they can all lay you on your arse in hospital for a while.

    Here in NZ, we have our katipo and apparently both the redback and the Funnel Web have been spotted here - probably due to insufficient fumigation of inward goods from Australia.

    I'm not generally worried about spiders though - never known anyone who lost a friend or family member to spider bite, but a friend of mine at primary school lost his sister to bees. She wasn't even allergic to them - she just took a very large number of stings in the space of a few seconds and died within minutes. She was only a toddler.

    I never worry about any spider I see but I do treat bee hives with a great deal of respect and keep my distance...

  44. Anonymous Coward

    There are exceptions

    > "Keep thick, stiff gardening/ranch-hand style gloves in a safe place. Whenever you go anywhere you think there might be spiders, put 'em on."

    Probably works with most spiders .... except the Funnel Web (and it sounds like these tube spiders are closely related) which have fangs with the strength to penetrate a fingernail, and typical garden/work gloves. When you encounter those viscious little bastards, "take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

    Case in point - when I moved into a new house a few years ago, there was an old shed and fence near the back porch. I did a routine anti-spider recce and counted 40+ Funnel Web spiders, and that was just the ones I could see on the outside.

    So, Britain, you have soooooo much to look forward to.

  45. RogueElement
    Thumb Up

    Wonderful - thanks ElReg...

    ...for providing me [and countless other nerds] with the perfect excuse to avoid that annual bath that we've been dreading since last Christmas.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Argh!


    Can I come, please? Pretty please?

    Do you think we should take someone who isn't scared of the buggers, just in case they follow us, with all their legs?

    B (I'm a girlie so it's inevitable that I hate them)

  47. Simon Painter

    @What's for dinner

    They eat scorpions? Now *that* is one double hard bastard. That's like my saying I eat ninja.

  48. lglethal Silver badge

    No sympathy

    Thats what you get for having a quarantine service that's motto is "Cant be assed looking, its fine..."

    Funny that you guys are now finding out how big a problem it is having non-native species taking over your country, we've been dealing with it in Aus since you bastards decided to import foxes and rabbits for the joy of the hunt!

  49. John Appleton
    Thumb Up

    Quit yo' jibber jabber

    I've lived in Southern Africa where they have real spiders. Plus snakes and scorpions. Yet I've only known two people to be bitten/stung by any one these. Both by scorpions, and they lived. I doubt there's anything to worry about.

    I wait in anticipation for mambas and scorpions to join us as well.

  50. TimM


    "how on earth can blackbirds or starlings be pests?"

    Don't know about blackbirds, but starlings are the bully of the bird table. They are evil little gits and chase off any other cute little bird. They descend on the garden in gangs and make a right mess of everything including the bird bath. I'm surprised they don't wear hoodies!

  51. Anonymous Coward


    Right on, bro'. Starlings and blackbirds were exported to the states by ignoramuses who wanted things like dear old home. In the states they have no native enemies and breed worse than imports on the dole. They make a right mess wherever they are and drive away the native bird populations (like chavs in your neighbourhood)

  52. Pyros


    Can we send you grackles and rock doves by the boatloads, then? They're sorta like starlings, only wimpier (and messier.)

  53. RogueElement
    Black Helicopters

    there is a more poisonous spider ...

    Closest icon to a spider... :o) the cranefly or daddy longlegs is believed to harbour a more toxic venom than the black widow but, fortunately, due to our cool and damp climate their teeth are very soft and thus they are unable to puncture our skin in order to inject it.

    I for one welcome the onset of global warming..... ewrrrrr.

  54. Andus McCoatover
    Paris Hilton

    ...but without gaining a firm foothold...??

    Foothold??? They've eight of the buggers, haven't they? If they can't get one of them firm, then Darwin was wrong.

    Paris, 'cos mine's still firm.

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