A woman from Northampton had a lucky escape after she spotted Britain’s most venomous spider on her pillow shortly before she got into bed.
Donna Bradbury, of Goldings, acted quickly to catch the false widow spider – the British cousin of the lethal black widow – when she spotted it crawling on the edge of her pillow case.
Despite having a fear of spiders, Mrs Bradbury, aged 31, grabbed an empty bottle and scooped up the spider inside it.
Mrs Bradbury, who has three young children, believes the spider got into her bedroom through a window she had left open.
She said: “Sometimes my youngest, who is 19 months old, comes in the bed and sleeps with me, so it’s lucky I saw it before I got into bed.
“I’m guessing it came in through the window which I’d left slightly open as it had been hot in the night.
“I caught it myself, I wasn’t leaving it in the room. And I didn’t want to try to swat it because I didn’t know where it would end up. I saw a story not that long ago about the effects a bite had on a man who got bitten by a false widow.
“So when I go to bed now I do tend to look over the duvet closely, and I don’t leave the window open at night now.”
A number of people in the Kent and London areas have recently reported being bitten by false widow spiders.
Alex Michael, aged 36, a tattoo artist from Sidcup, in London, spoke to the national press about how his hand turned yellow and black and “swelled like a balloon” after being bitten by a false widow spider. Another man from Orpington, in Kent, found one of the spiders in his hair after feeling something on his shoulder as he lay down.
Dubbed the ‘British black widow’, the deadly spider, which is about the size of a 50 pence piece, unleashes venom and can kill those who are allergic to it. However, it will only attack if provoked.
In 2006, a Dorchester man was hospitalised for three days after suffering a heart seizure following a spider bite believed to have been caused by a false widow.
The false widow spider first came to the UK more than 100 years ago in crates of fruit from the Canary Islands.
The Natural History Museum’s Insect Information Service (IIS) hears of about 10 cases of spider bites each year, although no one in the UK has ever died as a result of one.
The distribution of the false widow spider is expected to increase northwards in the UK due, at least partly, to mild summers in recent years.
False widows are not aggressive and only tend to bite if they feel under threat.