False widow spider discovered in Edinburgh kitchen

Keith Spence took to social media to learn about the spider which he found in his kitchen. Picture: Greg Macvean

Keith Spence took to social media to learn about the spider which he found in his kitchen. Picture: Greg Macvean

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IT’S had to put all eight legs to good use – but the false widow spider has finally made it to Edinburgh.

Stunned Keith Spence came across one of the venomous beasties when it reared its head in his Clermiston flat.

The false widow spider. Picture: contributed

The false widow spider. Picture: contributed

The quick-thinking 29-
year-old adopted the time-honoured tactic of trapping the unwelcome visitor in a takeaway box before seeking help.

He was relieved to discover the cousin of the deadly black widow has a reputation worse than its bite – but that didn’t stop his panic-striken wife throwing it out the window.

The discovery of the female false widow this far north – it is relatively common in the warmer climes of the south of England – has caused ripples, with experts putting its arrival down to balmy temperatures.

It had been thought that its trek would eventually be stalled by the colder temperatures, however the latest discovery proves the spiders are willing to brave a Capital winter.

Keith said: “My wife Betsy and I walked into the kitchen and spotted it on the window. I had read a bit in the last few weeks of folk down in England having nasty reactions to bites to I trapped it using a Chinese takeaway container.

“We had a fair few garden spiders into the flat last year but this thing looked a lot more serious.”

The head valeter with car dealership Evans Halshaw in Sighthill quickly took to social media to seek advice after the discovery on Sunday night, and soon found a specialist to put his mind at rest.

Keith said: “The guy just told us to leave it off again somewhere but my wife just tipped it out the window. Better to be safe than sorry.”

In recent weeks false widows have hit the headlines after a Kent grandad was left with horrific lesions on his leg after being bitten. And last week, a Glasgow dad-of-two told how he made a startling discovery in his living room in Castlemilk, while in East Kilbride between ten to 15 of the creatures were found in ducts at the town’s Envirogas plant.

The most horrific injury so far is that by decorator Ricki Whitmore, 39, who almost lost his leg when he disturbed a nest while working at a school in Essex. Surgeons had to slice open his leg and flush out the venom after his thigh swelled to twice its normal size.

There are fears that with temperatures outside plummeting as the winter months approach, millions of the spiders could make their way into homes to escape the cold.

However, insect expert Andrew McDonald, manager of Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World in Lasswade has urged calm.

He said: “A false widow bite can leave a nasty sting but unless you’re very young, very old or very ill, there’s not much to worry about.

“There have been reports of gangrene following some bites, but I suspect this has more to do with dirt under the nails as people scratch at the scab.

He added: “It sounds a lot more menacing than it really is and there’s been a bit of hysteria surrounding it. It’s a European spider so the fact its found its way to the UK isn’t that remarkable.

“We’ve had a lot of calls about them recently from Glasgow so it was only a matter of time really before they showed up on the east coast.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com