THE now-notorious false widow spider poses ‘little threat’ to people and their pets in Uttoxeter, a leading vet has said.
With some media outlets routinely describing the arachnids as ‘deadly’, people across the UK have expressed growing concern for their safety.
However, Abbeyfields Vets’ Catrina Durose has conducted research suggesting the creatures are in fact little more dangerous than regular British insects.
And, as many homeowners fear their pets could die if bitten by the nation’s ‘most poisonous spider’, she told the Advertiser she has seen no affected animals.
Bosses at Uttoxeter’s biggest surgery, Balance Street Health Centre, also confirmed no patients have been admitted for bites.
Ms Durose said: “The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) have told me they only have one recorded bite and that was in 2012.
“Even the British Arachnid Society (BAS) has emphasised that the false widow poses a very low risk.
“In the vast majority of cases, a bite will only yield a localised reaction, like any common insect bite.
“People may even be bitten without even noticing it.
“Several experts have suggested that media coverage has been totally disproportionate.”
The national media has been reporting on the false widow for around a month after a mild autumn saw its numbers rise.
Sightings have increased since then, with several bite victims having their stories published in a host of tabloids.
It is thought, in rare cases, some victims may experience an allergic reaction to the false widow’s venom.
Ms Durose said media reports had caused people to become ‘scared stiff’ of the seven-to-14mm spider.
She said: “I think, particularly in reference animal owners, the media’s picked a really strange thing to worry about.
“Of course, now everyone’s panicking whenever they see a spider outside their front door.
“I heard of one person who was scared to enter the front door of their place of work out of fear of being bitten.”
Some media outlets are now reporting the false widow’s more infamous and dangerous relative, the black widow, has been spotted in the south of England.
However, no UK deaths due to spider bites have ever been recorded.
A VPIS spokesman said: “The false or noble false window has been a non-native resident since the end of the 19th century.
“There has been an increase in media interest and there are probably some human bites.
“We have only one case in our database. The reports in the press and on the internet and social media can be inaccurate or at least unverified.”