Venomous false widow spider spotted in Hornchurch as numbers creep up in Havering

10:05 03 October 2013

This false widow spider was removed from a school in Hornchurch.

This false widow spider was removed from a school in Hornchurch.


A venomous spider with a nasty bite is creeping into Havering as numbers rise across London.

False widow spider facts

The false widow spider commonly occurs along the south coast of England from Devon and is spreading through London, Essex and Surrey.

They are between 16–32mm long, including legs, and have a distinctive cream pattern on the abdomen.

Adult spiders are capable of biting humans but are not aggressive.

Most injuries to humans are defensive bites delivered when a spider becomes unintentionally squeezed or pinched.

The venom can cause pain that radiates along the bitten limb or part of the body, and swelling.

Some people describe fever and feeling unwell. Symptoms may last for a couple of days but are unlikely to be serious.

Source: Natural History Museum

False widow spiders were thought to live mainly along the south coast but bites have been reported in recent months in Dagenham, south London and Kent.

In August, teacher Rachel Warry caught the creepy crawly in a school in Hornchurch.

She said: “I found it in a classroom but I didn’t know what it was at the time.

“I was surprised when I saw it because it was bigger than a normal spider – a bit larger than a 50p coin.

“I took a photo of it because I’d never seen one that looked like that before.”

No children were in the school but Miss Warry caught it in a box and moved it off the premises to be safe.

The false widow’s bite does not need medical attention in most cases but is known to cause pain, which radiates along the bitten part of the body, swelling, fever and feeling unwell.

Usually symptoms only last a couple of days but allergic reactions to the venom can be serious.

The Natural History Museum’s Insect Information Service hears of about 10 spider bites in the UK each year, although no one has ever died from one.

Around a dozen resident species have a nasty nip, including the false widow.

The exotic spider originates from Madeira, the Canary Islands and Africa but was brought to the UK more than a century ago on boats with imports of bananas.

Happy in the warm in conservatories, garages and sheds, the false widow has since multiplied and spread north from ports along the south coast.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA advised people to treat any unusual spiders as dangerous and to leave them alone.

Let us know of any sightings by emailing or tweeting @RomfordRecorder.

For help identifying a spider visit the British Arachnological Society website or call the Natural History Museum identification and advisory service on 020 7942 5045.


Latest Romford News Stories


A look back at the biggest local stories from this week 20, 40 and 60 years ago.

Athlete Christine Ohuruogu visited her secondary school St Edwards Church of England School in Romford to present a piece of the London 2012 Olympic track.

A former Olympic athlete wants to encourage young people to aim high as she presented her school with a piece of track from the London 2012 games.

Yesterday, 15:00

A theatre has taken a bold step to ensure that suffering from dementia should not be an obstacle to enjoying the excitement and delight of a stage 

Yesterday, 12:00
From left jewellery students Carol Carne, Gina Savill-Turner, Jo Golledge, chainmail queen Linda Parkyn. Daphne Freeman and tutor Carol Allen at the Fairkytes Arts Centre.

It started life in the mid-18th century as a private house for occupants including Joseph Fry, son of the famous prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

Yesterday, 10:00
Student Alice and reporter Chloe Farand talking about the care suite at Havering Sixth Form College

Chloe Farand meets Havering Sixth Form College’s mental health officer and the care team, who support students day to day

Yesterday, 08:02
Ardleigh Green Road, Photo: Google Maps

CCTV footage of two men sought in connection with an incident where a woman was robbed and dragged along a pavement has been released by police.

Fri, 17:33
Residents from Orchard Village warn against plans for 750 homes in New Road, Rainham

People angered by a host of problems on their estate have staged a protest about the housing association as it presented new plans for 750 homes.

Fri, 12:54
Police were called after reports of an incident at the Thomson travel agency in Upminster this morning

Police are attending an incident at a travel agents with reports that the building has been cordoned off.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news


Show Job Lists

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


£3,000 goes a long way at Boots

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

Kit yourself out and go Apple mad!

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now