False widow spiders in schools

08 Oct 2018

Updated 9 October with key points

You may be aware that a number of schools in Newham have been closed after reportedly becoming infested with false widow spiders. There have been reports from schools in Ealing that they have also seen a false widow spider in their school.

At this time of year, it is common to see spiders indoors and one or two spiders do not equate to an infestation. The spiders will only bite if mishandled or provoked and the bite is similar to that of a wasp sting. The spiders are mainly active at night and like dark warm corners such as behind washing machines and tumble driers.

Schools are advised to proactively check premises for these spiders, and if you see any signs of them, contact your pest control company and inform either Steve Dunham or Raj Chowdhury on the contact details below.

Key points

Key points and lessons learnt from the Newham incidents:

  • There are three types of false widow spiders. It is only the Noble False widow spider that has a wasp like bite
  • There is a lot of sensitivity and media interest around the subject but schools should be advised to follow the PHE advice before decisions are made on closure. The key is to follow a pragmatic approach
  • The fumigation process takes place in two stages. Stage one, the area is fumigated and left for five days, a second treatment is then applied and left for five days. Stage two, the site is cleaned
  • During the fumigation stage the spiders become very aggressive and attack anything in the vicinity of their nest.

Useful links

British Arachnological Society

NHS advice, insect bites and stings

Natural History Museum, fact sheet: false widow spiders – Steatoda spp 2014

See also advice from Public Health England download.

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Last updated: 23 Apr 2019

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