04:15AM, Thursday 24 October 2013
Pest control companies have dismissed fears over the presence of the false widow spider as a 'fuss about nothing'.
They have urged people to stay calm after a string of reports in the national media about growing numbers of the spider and people suffering extreme reactions to bites.
Alec Minter, who covers the East Berkshire area with PEST UK, says the issue is nothing new and phone calls about the problem have always turned out to be a false alarm.
"People phone up claiming they’ve been bitten, but it’s never confirmed as a false widow," he said.
His colleague Scott Hyslop said he has never encountered a false widow during his 26 years in pest control.
He said sightings are 'usually a common garden spider'.
Scott also said they now make people send pictures of any 'problem' spiders before visiting addresses to avoid wasted journeys.
Conservationists are putting the sightings down to a recent change in climate; however zoologist Dr George McGavin argues that 'false widow spiders have been in the UK for over a hundred years with little fuss'.
Mark Collins, of Antipest in Maidenhead, says the issue has been 'blown out of proportion'.
Professor McGavin of Oxford University, agrees that there is no need to worry.
"No-one in the UK has ever died of a spider bite," he said.
"More have died from bee and wasps stings or even peanut allergy."
The Royal Borough and Slough Borough Council both say they have not received any reports of false widow sightings.
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