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Poisonous spiders invade Britain

Global warming sparks arachnid warning

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A Natural History Museum expert has warned that global warming is giving invasive poisonous spiders the chance to thrive in Britain.

The false widow spider, Steatoda nobilis, was first recorded in the UK in 1897, according to the museum.

The female's bite can hospitalise an adult man. One victim reported: "Bitten on the shoulder. Initially the top of my arm ached, then felt itchy. Ten minutes later my armpit became numb. The skin was hot and sticky and looked wrinkled. The tenderness and itchiness lasted for some days (later said to be infected)."

Other effects include flu-like symptoms, stiffness, a burning sensation, and pain "more severe than a bee or wasp sting".

Until recently, the false widow's spread had been stymied by harsh weather. It was not fully established until the 1980s, but is now spreading rapidly east and north from its Dorset stronghold, and bite incidents are increasing.

Entomologist Stuart Hine told Thisislondon.co.uk: "There is no doubt in my mind that this is due to the milder winters caused by global warming.

"They are all surviving the winter and are crawling out of hibernation earlier to mate. The numbers have just rocketed into the hundreds of thousands."

Hine warned gardeners to be on the lookout for the new menace. ®

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