September Pest of the Month: False Black Widow Spiders
September is the beginning of spider season in the UK and we’ll see more of them coming indoors over the next couple of months, so it is only fitting that this month’s Pest of the Month is one of the eight-legged variety! There are six species of false black widow spiders in the UK; however, the most common species are the rabbit hutch spider, cupboard spider, and the noble false widow. The formal Latin name of the noble false widow is Steatoda nobilis, which is often mistaken for its cousin species, the black widow spider. Although black widow spiders do not reside in the UK, Urban Pest Control receives many inquiries, especially in Autumn, about false black widows due to people’s fear of spiders and the perceived risks they pose.
Interesting facts about false black widow spiders:
- The first reported false black widow spider sighting was in 1879. It was a stowaway found in banana boxes on a cargo ship sailing from Madeira and the Canary Islands to Torquay in Devon.
- Noble false widows commonly inhabit homes in the South of England. However, due to climate change and warmer winters, sightings have been recorded as far north as Scotland.
- False black widow spiders are the UK’s most venomous arachnids, but their bites are 1000 times less powerful than those of black widow spiders. Bites are rare, and they only occur when the spiders feel threatened.
- The symptoms of a noble false black widow bite are usually no more severe than those of a wasp or bee sting but may include:
- Throbbing pain
- Tingling in fingers
- Swelling at the bite site
- *Always seek medical advice if symptoms persist.
- Noble false black widows mate in the spring, from May to July. The females produce three or more egg sacs, each containing approximately 200 eggs.
Female nobles live up to three years, whereas males only live for a year.
- False black widow spiders are nocturnal creatures. They spend the day hiding in cracks and crevices adjoining their webs and depend on the vibrations of the web to alert them to prey or a mate, due to their poor eyesight.
- Spiders don’t get caught in their own webs because they have self-oiling legs.
How to recognise you have a false black widow spider issue:
There are two ways to know if you have an infestation of False Black Widow Spiders.
- Firstly, you will notice an increase in irregular crisscross tangles of fine but sticky silk webs. They prefer warm, dry elevated positions in homes, conservatories, sheltered spots such as outbuildings and sheds. Evidence shows that they prefer South-facing walls.
- Most importantly, you might see them to know you have an issue. Identification is key. Noble False Widows are the largest of the three False Widow species. Female nobles are larger than males and can measure up to 10-14mm (32mm including their legs). All species have distinctive sets of markings on their abdomens: they have a narrow white or lighter band around the front of the abdomen towards their head. Other characteristics include skull-like markings which may be variable, faded, or missing, especially in adult females. The females also have a bulbous abdomen with a reddish thorax and legs.
How to prevent false black widow spiders:
If you have arachnophobia or false black widows have become a nuisance pest, it is always best to call professionals for assistance. At Urban Pest Control we have plenty of experience dealing with these spiders and our team of pest removal experts use their knowledge to identify the species that may cause harm. We can offer various methods to eradicate false widow spider problems, and are happy to provide a quote for an effective solution. The treatment methods used depend on the size of the infestation, and all treatments adhere to COSHH regulations 2002. Using a professional pest controller like Urban Pest Control, with our access to a wide range of industry insecticides and equipment such as an Exodus ULV system, a high-quality fogging machine, enables us to target problematic areas effectively.