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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

05 January, 2017

Steatoda nobilis: the false black widow

Some creatures, and plants for that matter, get very bad press! Earlier this year a school closed for a while because the false black widow spider (Steatoda nobilis) had colonised a part of it. I am not saying that was wrong, just saying how some creatures get bad press. Back in the autumn there were headlines in one paper saying there were going to be plaques of them this year. It is a fact that this spider is venomous and should be treated with a degree of caution. For most people the effects are minimal, not even as bad a wasp sting but a small number of people have had a severe reaction to a bite and have been quite ill, I may love nature of all kinds but I would not tolerate one of these indoors. 
This can be quite a large species although much smaller than the common house spider and has brown markings on a black background; the males are more distinctly marked than the females. They are quite unique in appearance and are easily identified. 
A native of the Canary Islands and Madeira they were imported into the ports of southern Britain, especially on the Fyffes boats in Southampton, with bananas and they have spread readily and can now be found almost anywhere around houses in southern England and they also survive 'in the wild' along the south coast. There is no need to be frightened of them, just take care if you come across one.
Steatoda nobilis: the false black widow