By Beth Sharp Thursday 24 October 2013 Updated: 25/10 07:54
WILDLIFE experts in the county have called for calm following ‘panic publicity’ surrounding the venomous False Widow spider.
It comes amidst media reports of people being bitten by the spider in other parts of the country and after Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust would neither confirm or deny if anyone had been treated for bites at the Alexandra or Worcestershire Royal Hospitals.
Several potential sightings have been reported to Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre but most have been identified as other species.
Wendy Carter, communications manager, for Worcestershire Wildlife Trust said they were more concerned the media attention could lead to people killing every spider they come across, regardless of species, which had the potential to disrupt the fragile ecosystem.
“If readers do come across one we’d advise them to remove the spiders humanely, using a glass and a piece of card is easy enough, and put them outside,” she said.
“The spider is not aggressive so will not attack, the only reason for a bite would be in its defence.”
Emma Bartholomew, from the Butterfly Farm in nearby Stratford-Upon-Avon, said many people did not realise they had been living with the arachnids on a daily basis since they first arrived in Britain in 1879, transported in banana crates from the Canary Islands.
“Sensational articles have brought this species to public attention and people are afraid of it,” she said.
Experts have verified the spiders’ bites are no worse than a wasp or bee sting and no person in Britain has died from one, meaning more people have died from falling off stepladders.
She said pictures of a man’s injuries, which were circulated around the internet after his leg was cut open following a False Widow bite, was more down to his bite becoming infected, not because of the spider’s venom.
She said a small percentage of people may have bad reactions but the chances of being bitten were small as only females bit and most would not unless they were disturbed and provoked.
She added False Widow bites often occurred because the spider had ended up in clothing and was disturbed as someone dressed.
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