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About The False Widow Spider

What is the False Widow Spider? The False Widow spider is basically a bigger version of a very common spider found in every shed in the UK. The females are about 11mm 15mm in leg span with a small pea sized body. The male is smaller. They have three key identification features: False Widow in Hampshire title=

  • The body is shiny, smooth and hard looking
  • The body has a skull like pattern just about. This varies a lot and is often random.
  • The web is scruffy, small and old looking like a 5 year old web
  • Where do they live? They are quite reclusive and like quiet areas like sheds!, storage lockers etc. They have been found in all the southern counties of England up to Norfolk.

    Early stages of a bite Initially the bite looks very similar to an itchy mosquito bite, perhaps just like a slightly bigger than normal one. Within a couple of days it seems to grow a little making the surrounding skin reddish in colour. You could mistake this for perhaps a tick bite without the bulls-eye.

    Up to a week later You are now beginning to think that you may have a boil or abscess so you go visit your doctor. He will probably give you a course of antibiotics which may or may not help a little. My theory is that they help because a secondary infection may be starting where the skin is and flesh is loosing it's immunity.

    10 days to two weeks later You stop your antibiotics and within a few days..wham you life has got a whole lot more painful as you take the full brunt of dissolving flesh and tendon. You visit the doctor again and below is what you see....

    If you are scared of arachnids do NOT scroll down!

    early stages of a false widow bite

    A week later the doctor decided to slice it open and look inside. To his shock it was actually a dissolved cavern extending almost to the back of the kneecap bone, so 5 cm deep!

    nasty false widow bit in back of leg

    The wound just burst and a load of black congealed liquid poured out (dissolved flesh) leaving this wound. A wound that is not easy to heal or protect from further infection - let alone the pain!


    To heal a wound like this will take three months or more and will initially require daily packing - i.e stuffing the hole with wadding and the following day pulling it all back out and doing it again and again until the flesh starts to fill the hole. This will be very painful. After a month or so the wadding required will be reduced and a bandage will suffice.

    After about 6 months it will look like a large burn but will have healed over. A year of so later you can reminisce about it and thanks the lord it didn't bite you on the face, genitals, wrist or anywhere not very meaty!

    Should you be worried?

    Probably not, but you the idea is that you are aware; that you check your children's outdoor toys if they have been in the shed all winter. I would hate to think about a child getting bitten. Study the spiders well if you suspect one as you will see many of its relations that are harmless and remember this spider isn't out to hurt you but will if if feels it's about to get squashed!

    The False Widow Spider in the UK

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