An Orpington man has documented the gruesome wound he suffered after being bitten by a false widow spider.

Richard Stevens first noticed what he thought was a “normal looking, innocuous insect bite” on his leg in early December after being bitten overnight.

Brushing it off as a small irritation, the bite began to grow and over the next eight days it became a swollen lump, sore and enflamed, which was causing the muscles in his leg to hurt.

By December 10, 40-year-old Mr Stevens knew something was wrong.

He told News Shopper: “I remember coming home from work and feeling not quite right – I’d never had an insect bit cause this much pain.

“I was a bit blasé. I thought you don’t go to the doctors about an insect bite.

“By 9 o’clock, literally in the space of three hours, it became really painful.”

Still unaware he had been bitten by a false widow, project manager Mr Stevens went to the urgent care unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, before medics told him to go straight to A and E.

News Shopper:

An early picture of the bite on Richard Stevens' leg.

Mr Stevens took himself to the emergency department at the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) in Farnborough, where he found out his once “normal looking” bite would require surgery.

“He [the doctor] looked at it and straight away told me you need to go to surgery.

“At this point we didn’t know what it was.”

Mr Steven’s lump was growing ever angrier, with a black dot emerging under the surface of the skin.

Eventually the black point became big enough to break the skin, which is what Mr Stevens said “became the open, weeping wound.”


News Shopper:

He was sent home before being told his surgery had been scheduled for the following Monday, when he underwent the three-hour procedure under general anaesthetic.

By the time the skin broke, the weeping hole in his leg was the size of a pound coin in width and an inch and a half deep.

And as documented in his YouTube video, the month-long recovery was not for the faint-hearted.

Every two days Mr Stevens returned to the doctors for the wound to be redressed, which involved a long ribbon gauze being pulled out of the hole and repacked with a new one to encourage new flesh to grow.

He described the feeling as a “weird sensation” and said the footage still makes his stomach turn.

“It was like someone had got a cigarette lighter from a car and plunged it in to my leg,” Mr Stevens said, describing the wound.

“That time when they’re taking that ribbon gauze out and it keeps coming and keeps coming, it still makes me feel a little bit queasy.”


News Shopper:

The ribbon gauze being removed from the wound.

It was during a consultation visit that Mr Stevens discovered the culprit was most likely a false widow spider.

He said: “I asked what it was, what had caused it to be such a bad reaction, the fact that my flesh had rotted away.

“I was told the toxicology reports weren’t conclusive but they were very confident it was a false widow spider.”

Looking back, Mr Stevens said he was “massively surprised” by what became of his bite and advised anyone else in a similar situation to go to the doctors much earlier than he did.

“I can’t remember the last time I went to the doctors for anything really,” he said.

“I certainly would never have gone for what was an insect bite in December in the UK.

“The doctors said if I had gone earlier they would have given me some antibiotics and the antibiotics would have solved it.

“Had I tried not to be ‘it’s just an insect bit, it’s nothing’, I would have avoided an awful lot of hassle and pain.”