London and north Kent could be crawling with Britain’s most venomous spider in the coming months.
False widows could creep their way into homes across the capital and surrounding counties due to milder temperatures in September and October, experts have warned.
The UK population of the species, whose bite is typically as painful as a bee sting, has soared into the millions in recent years and is thought to be growing all the time.
Pest management consultant Clive Boase says conditions are ideal for a significant spike in numbers in the autumn.
He said: “We’ve had a reasonably warm year with very few cold snaps and no particularly extended periods of either dry or wet weather.
“That has led to more invertebrates, such as flies, to feed on and means false widows, as well as many other species of spiders, have been able to continue their development throughout the summer.
“Sightings of spiders often peak from September as males of many species reach adulthood and venture into homes in search of a mate, but we could be seeing a lot more of them than normal over the next month or two.”
False widows – originally from the Canary Islands – can grow up to 3cm across, including the legs, and are distinguished by their shiny, black, bulbous bodies and markings which look like a skull on their abdomens.
The false widow spider that bit Alex Michael.
Another false widow spider
They got their name through their resemblance to the deadly black widow spider, which has a nasty bite known to have been fatal to humans but which is not likely to become established in the UK.
Rob Simpson, manager of pest controllers register BASIS PROMPT, says simple precautions can be taken to reduce the likelihood of false widows.
Britain’s most venomous spider set to invade London homes
Mr Simpson added: “Spiders will have fewer places to hide if you keep clutter to a minimum, so I would say keep your house tidy and vacuum regularly.
“You can spray dark corners of the home with pesticides and there’s an old wives tale about placing conkers on window sills, but I’m not sure that works.”