Blackfen tattooist bitten by deadly false widow spider

Blackfen tattooist bitten by deadly false widow spider

The false widow spider that bit Alex Michael.

Alex Michael.

Alex Michael's finger after being bitten.

Andy Pitty with the spider he has in a pot.

Shelly Albrow.

First published in Bromley
Last updated
by

AN ARMY of deadly spiders has made its way towards Bexley, Bromley and north Kent - and the venom from one bite is enough to kill.

A Blackfen tattooist has described how his hand turned yellow and black after the false widow spider bit him as he slept.

Alex Michael says his hand was still "swollen like a balloon" five weeks after being bitten by the creepy-crawly at his home in Harcourt Avenue.

News Shopper previously reported how the venomous two-inch long Steatoda noblis had been spied in homes and gardens across the borough.

The spider unleashes deadly venom when provoked which can kill those allergic to it.

But Mr Michael says he only realised he’d been attacked by a spider when he posted a picture online.

He had previously had blood tests and x-rays at both Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, as experts tried to figure out what was wrong with his hand.

The 36-year-old, who owns Incredible Ink in Westwood Lane, said: "Then I put a picture of the spider on Facebook saying ‘have I found a new species?’

News Shopper: Alex Michael.

"Within minutes people replied saying ‘it is dangerous, don’t touch it.’ "I went back to the doctor and he didn’t believe me.

"He said ‘what website did you get that off?’ "I said it was taken in my kitchen.

"He went to News Shopper's website and I saw his face drop.

"He said ‘you could be right about this. It could be a spider bite.’"

Mr Michael went to Darent Valley Hospital on Friday evening, armed with another false widow spider he had caught in a pot.

He explained: "I said I’m going to let this spider go in your office and if it bites you I’m going to follow you to where you get it sorted.

"Eventually they took it pretty seriously."

Doctors gave him a course of flucloxacillin and within days, the swelling reduced and the pain disappeared.

News Shopper: Alex Michael's finger after being bitten.

But Mr Michael believes there should be more warnings about false widow spiders if they are living in the borough.

He added: "If they bite a young kid of an elderly person who hasn’t got a great metabolism it could be quite dangerous."

"I told my little girl 'do not touch them'"

News Shopper: Andy Pitty with the spider he has in a pot.

Decorator Andy Pitty says he has counted 50 of the spiders across three fences at his home in Smugglers Walk, Greenhithe.

The 43-year-old said: "I have told my little girl do not touch them.

"An expert at the British Arachnological Society said he was surprised they were in the garden and not in the house so I’m just worried about them coming in for warmth."

The spiders' webs in Mr Pitty’s garden are already filled with prey including grasshoppers and beetles and the painter has also seen one of the spiders catch a wasp.

He said: "I had seen a couple of baby’s so knew they had young.

"I went out with my torch one night and the fence was coming to life.

"I think they like the fact my fence has got slats across it - they have found it's a safe haven."

Mr Pitty now wants rid of the spiders - although catching and re-locating all 50 is set to be a challenge.

He said: "I caught one and I’m sure it was a male.

"I put it in with one of the baby spiders and it just killed it within seconds."

'It was big and ugly'

News Shopper: Shelly Albrow.

An Orpington woman was one of 30 News Shopper readers to contact us in the last week after spotting the creepy-crawly.

Shelly Albrow got the shock of her life when she discovered the deadly spider on the floor of a local off licence.

She was sweeping in the back office of the Wine Mill in Carlton Parade, Orpington, on August 28, when she moved a wine box to one side.

The 43-year-old was confronted with what she now believes was the UK's most venomous spider.

Miss Albrow said: "It was big and ugly. It had long legs and a long body which was a bit fat the end.

"After I'd moved the box I jumped back, but it just stayed there.

"I don't like spiders anyway so I really didn't like this one.

"I thought 'eugh' and quickly walked away.

"I didn't stay in the office for long afterwards."

Despite her fear Miss Albrow, of Heath Close, Orpington, grabbed a photograph before showing it to her friends.

She said: "When I posted a picture on Facebook, my friends said it could be a false widow spider.

"The manageress found the spider a couple of days later and killed it."

The false widow spider: Where did it come from?

The false widow spider first came to the UK in crates of fruit from the Canary Islands more than 100-years ago and the spiders began to settle in Devon.

Due to climatic changes, the population has started spreading across the south-east.

London Wildlife Trust conservation ecologist Tony Wileman said: "Reports from false widow spider bites have included symptoms like chest pains and a swelling and tingling of the bite area, usually the fingers.

He added: "If bitten then visit A and E, do not ring 999.

"Ideally and if possible the spider should be caught in a jar so it can be identified."

News Shopper asked Natural History Museum spider expert Stuart Hine why there have been so many sightings of these spiders in recent weeks.

He said: "Its spider season. A lot of species mature in the autumn. When it's hot and humid, we leave our doors and windows open, and that allows the spiders in."

Comments (13)

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9:57am Wed 18 Sep 13

alexianson94 says...

And this is why i hate Spiders
And this is why i hate Spiders alexianson94
  • Score: -10

11:36am Wed 18 Sep 13

bnorther says...

Calling it deadly is a bit extreme. Its a bit like calling a peanut or a bee deadly. Some people may be allergic, but the to vast majority it is not deadly.

Painful yes.
Calling it deadly is a bit extreme. Its a bit like calling a peanut or a bee deadly. Some people may be allergic, but the to vast majority it is not deadly. Painful yes. bnorther
  • Score: 22

11:40am Wed 18 Sep 13

Witchkid says...

"AN ARMY of deadly spiders has made its way towards Bexley, Bromley and north Kent - and the venom from one bite is enough to kill." Oh, please! NS, will you stop your hysterical ranting! Heaven knows what rubbish you'd come out with if you heard about the Australian Drop Bears that have been sighted in Bursted Woods! Now they ARE lethal.

On the plus side, at least Mr Michael has got himself a nice bit of free advertising.
"AN ARMY of deadly spiders has made its way towards Bexley, Bromley and north Kent - and the venom from one bite is enough to kill." Oh, please! NS, will you stop your hysterical ranting! Heaven knows what rubbish you'd come out with if you heard about the Australian Drop Bears that have been sighted in Bursted Woods! Now they ARE lethal. On the plus side, at least Mr Michael has got himself a nice bit of free advertising. Witchkid
  • Score: 11

12:55pm Wed 18 Sep 13

molsey says...

I noticed one this morning while in the News Shopper reception Petts Wood.
I noticed one this morning while in the News Shopper reception Petts Wood. molsey
  • Score: 7

1:00pm Wed 18 Sep 13

DinoFish says...

Is the Spider ok?
Is the Spider ok? DinoFish
  • Score: 7

1:05pm Wed 18 Sep 13

molsey says...

DinoFish wrote:
Is the Spider ok?
Seemed fine when it went up the stairs.
[quote][p][bold]DinoFish[/bold] wrote: Is the Spider ok?[/p][/quote]Seemed fine when it went up the stairs. molsey
  • Score: 6

10:03am Thu 19 Sep 13

Poxicator says...

What a load of sensationalist rubbish!
There are 12 spiders native to Britain that can bite, some might be painful, none are capable of killing people. And there are no reports of such.
You really need to provoke these to get a bite but as with all bites the wound needs to be cleaned to avoid secondary infection.
I have loads of these living in my house, never had a problem with them.
What a load of sensationalist rubbish! There are 12 spiders native to Britain that can bite, some might be painful, none are capable of killing people. And there are no reports of such. You really need to provoke these to get a bite but as with all bites the wound needs to be cleaned to avoid secondary infection. I have loads of these living in my house, never had a problem with them. Poxicator
  • Score: 6

5:44pm Thu 19 Sep 13

molsey says...

Poxicator wrote:
What a load of sensationalist rubbish!
There are 12 spiders native to Britain that can bite, some might be painful, none are capable of killing people. And there are no reports of such.
You really need to provoke these to get a bite but as with all bites the wound needs to be cleaned to avoid secondary infection.
I have loads of these living in my house, never had a problem with them.
Get many visitors?
[quote][p][bold]Poxicator[/bold] wrote: What a load of sensationalist rubbish! There are 12 spiders native to Britain that can bite, some might be painful, none are capable of killing people. And there are no reports of such. You really need to provoke these to get a bite but as with all bites the wound needs to be cleaned to avoid secondary infection. I have loads of these living in my house, never had a problem with them.[/p][/quote]Get many visitors? molsey
  • Score: 8

6:52pm Thu 19 Sep 13

Slonik says...

Things must be quiet @ NS HQ lol
Things must be quiet @ NS HQ lol Slonik
  • Score: 3

1:17pm Fri 20 Sep 13

_vikkistarr says...

I love a bit of scaremongering.
I love a bit of scaremongering. _vikkistarr
  • Score: 4

3:25pm Fri 20 Sep 13

Tony_K says...

Disappointing article. Steatoda Nobilis can give a painful bite which causes swelling. I have a small child and so remove them from the house whenever I come across one to avoid any potential problems. I've found one at home in Kent a couple of months ago and two at my Mum's house in Hampshire a few years back. In researching them I found no evidence that they kill. See the following article. http://www.nhm.ac.uk
/nature-online/life/
insects-spiders/iden
tification-guides-an
d-keys/spider-bites/
false-widow.html.
It would have been more responsible to have informed people of the painful bite instead of scaremongering on the front page. The headline is not accurate and It's not good enough to state it could kill someone if they were allergic to it.
.
Disappointing article. Steatoda Nobilis can give a painful bite which causes swelling. I have a small child and so remove them from the house whenever I come across one to avoid any potential problems. I've found one at home in Kent a couple of months ago and two at my Mum's house in Hampshire a few years back. In researching them I found no evidence that they kill. See the following article. http://www.nhm.ac.uk /nature-online/life/ insects-spiders/iden tification-guides-an d-keys/spider-bites/ false-widow.html. It would have been more responsible to have informed people of the painful bite instead of scaremongering on the front page. The headline is not accurate and It's not good enough to state it could kill someone if they were allergic to it. . Tony_K
  • Score: 5

9:54pm Sun 29 Sep 13

sadienerin says...

We had two in our house and I called Bexley council, who called enviroment, who said it was harmless, so what is it. If the problems are chest related, my youngest daughter who is severely disabled was admitted recently with non stop seizures and chest problems and had a small mark which looks very similar to the picture on the tattooist hand. She was extremely poorly. If it was the spider then surely Bexley council should not be telling people it is harmeless!!! I emailed the pictures to you but have had no response at all!
We had two in our house and I called Bexley council, who called enviroment, who said it was harmless, so what is it. If the problems are chest related, my youngest daughter who is severely disabled was admitted recently with non stop seizures and chest problems and had a small mark which looks very similar to the picture on the tattooist hand. She was extremely poorly. If it was the spider then surely Bexley council should not be telling people it is harmeless!!! I emailed the pictures to you but have had no response at all! sadienerin
  • Score: 0

10:29pm Sun 29 Sep 13

Poxicator says...

sadienerin, the report is sensationalist, written by people with little knowledge of spiders - the source of the identity and the dangers being nothing more than a google search.
Please visit the link below, its from a far more credible and reliable source. Unfortunately this newspaper is not alone to trying to spread fear of spiders, even the nationals are doing the same, and with the same errors, one even providing a picture of a completely different species.
The spider in question is not related to the Black Widow, and nor did it invent the common name of False Widow :)

http://www.nhm.ac.uk
/nature-online/life/
insects-spiders/iden
tification-guides-an
d-keys/spider-bites/
index.html
sadienerin, the report is sensationalist, written by people with little knowledge of spiders - the source of the identity and the dangers being nothing more than a google search. Please visit the link below, its from a far more credible and reliable source. Unfortunately this newspaper is not alone to trying to spread fear of spiders, even the nationals are doing the same, and with the same errors, one even providing a picture of a completely different species. The spider in question is not related to the Black Widow, and nor did it invent the common name of False Widow :) http://www.nhm.ac.uk /nature-online/life/ insects-spiders/iden tification-guides-an d-keys/spider-bites/ index.html Poxicator
  • Score: 0

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