False Widow spider bites on the rise in Ireland
The spiders bite when they become trapped in our clothes or in our beds.
Scientists in NUI Galway have shared insights into their research on the prevalence of the Noble False Widow spider in Ireland.
The study, which was published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, said that the bite of a Noble False Widow may inflict the same symptoms a true Black Widow.
In some severe cases, hospitalisation may be required.
Today, the False Widow is one of the most common spiders found in Irish cities. Scientists have described their venom as being "far more potent than any of our native spiders". They added that their presence could have a "detrimental impact on Irish ecosystems".
The spider is brown in colour, with pale markings. Their bodies are round and bulbous.
The spider is native to the Canary Islands and Maderia, but scientists believed they traveled to Ireland in Freight containers throughout the 90s. They are now found all over the world.
#RecordOfTheWeek is this native False Widow Spider Steatoda bipunctata submitted to us via WiReD https://t.co/A7qZ1nd10z by Alan Salter, Brecon. #spiders @BuglifeCymru @BritishSpiders. Thanks to Richard Gallon @cofnod for the ID pic.twitter.com/4jYEU7Wxde
— Biodiversity Information Service (BIS) (@BISBrecon1) March 8, 2019
Researchers believe that a genetic mutation may be allowing the spider to survive in new environments.
As for the bite, symptoms can vary from mild to severe pain and from mild to severe swelling. Malaise and stiffness of the limbs have also been reported.
NUIG researchers have said that most bites happen at home, with spiders becoming trapped in bed sheets or clothes.
Appearing on Morning Ireland, the head of the Venom Systems Laboratory at NUIG, Dr Michael Dugon, said that the species is here to stay.
Dr Dugon told Áine Lawlor that people should shake out their clothes before putting them on to avoid being bitten.
He said: "Most people who get bitten get bitten either in their bed, or while putting their clothes on in the morning."
Dr Dugon also said that people can capture the spider and throw it outside if they encounter it in their home.