Feeds

Black widows: Coming soon to a kitchen sink near you

Arachnid invasion threatens UK

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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 might previously have killed them en masse. Milder winters allow them to consolidate their populations and spread.

Among the eight-legged immigrants is Steatoda paykulliana - "a false widow spider that is native to Southern Europe, West Asia and North Africa" - thought to have arrived here from the Mediterranean in the late 1800s but without gaining a firm foothold. It has, however, slowly spread from Devon along the south coast, and Stuart Hine, who heads the Natural History Museum's Insect Identification Service, warned: "Now we have found it in Plymouth. And it looks as if it is here to stay."

Hine cautioned that while Steatoda paykulliana can give you a nasty bite, it's a pussycat compared to the tube web spider (Segestria florentina), which has spread north from the south coast. He said of the 1.5cm and 2.2cm (0.6-0.9in) beast boasting "green iridescence on its jaws": "In spider terms, it has to be said that this is an aggressive spider. If you approach it, it raises its legs and bares its fangs. Most spiders will back away - this one will jump at you and bite."

The solution to the arachnid threat is, according to Matt Shardlow of conservation group Buglife, to get a grip on biological imports. He told the BBC: "Other countries in the world take great care about what biological material they allow in, because it can contain pests that can damage our goods, our livelihoods, our health and our biodiversity. Currently in the UK, we have a laissez-faire attitude - there is an open licence for people to bring in dangerous pests."

A spokesperson for Defra assured the Beeb: "The government and its agencies work with businesses, overseas authorities and the general public to minimise the risk of exotic animal and plant pests and diseases from entering the country and threatening public health, livestock, agriculture, horticulture and the environment. Disease can enter the country in many ways; that's why Defra undertakes international disease monitoring, while there are also strict controls on the movement of livestock and animals."

All well and good, but Stuart Hine was prompted to speculate that the black widow - a spider which can kill with the merest glance* - could be our next unwelcome guest. He doomwatched: "There is no great reason that they wouldn't survive here now - winters are now mild enough. It really is only a matter of time."

Those with nerves of steel can get some mugshots of the multi-limbed monsters here. ®

Bootnote

*Not really - that's a joke we nicked from Peter Fleming's excellent Brazilian Adventure. Highly recommended.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.