False widow spiders on the increase in London and Essex

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London Network for Pest Solutions is advising care home managers, school maintenance officers and property managers to be on the lookout for false widow spiders following an increase in callouts.

In the last four weeks, LNPS has noticed a considerable increase in the number of callouts relating to the false widow spider, including infestations at a number of schools and, over the Jubilee weekend, a large wedding venue in Essex.

While most healthy adults will experience symptoms similar to a nasty insect bite, the elderly, children under five and others who are susceptible to wasp and bee stings can end up being hospitalised.

With schools closed for the summer break, many authorities are completing necessary maintenance work making it the perfect time to check buildings for false widow spiders.

LNPS managing director Paul Cooper said: “We have learned a lot over the last four years of dealing with around 150 cases. We know how they behave and where to look for them. We often don’t see them as they are hiding but two things give them away.

“Firstly, the egg cases and, secondly, the webbing. Unlike other spiders’ webs, which have a pattern, false widow spiders’ webs are random, very fine and they are often on the south-facing side of the building. We’ve noticed they get dirty very quickly, after which the spiders seem to abandon them. Through experience, we’ve learned a clean web shows it is being used and the spiders are probably multiplying.”

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With more than 25 years' experience in business-to-business publishing, Simon is editor of LBM titles Pest and OvertheCounter. Big fan of Manchester United.