A guide to spiders: which can really harm us?

Arachnophobia - the fear of eight-legged insects - is a rather common fear. Whether it finds its basis in movies, or from a deep genetic warning system of great-fanged monsters of eons ago, remains a mystery. The real question we must answer is whether this fear is truly warranted for the British public. Are British spiders poisonous, aggressive and to be feared? Which spiders should I worry about and what should I do if I am bitten? Will I be ensnared in a giant web? Will paracetamol be enough?

British spiders and their bite

There are an estimated over 650 species of British spider, which is likely a small fraction of those waiting to be discovered. Although no British made spider holds significantly deadly venom, their bite can still cause nasty local symptoms. British spiders, unless you are especially allergic, will not kill you. But they can leave a nasty nip.

Out of the British varieties there a few bullies that set themselves apart. The False Widow Spider is endogenous to the south of England and has a bite that can cause pain, swelling and feeling generally unwell for a number of days.

They tend to shelter in dark corners. The aptly named Wolf Spider is a lone hunter, with hairy thick legs and a colorful carapace, can leave a nasty stinging wound if bothered. The Lace Web and Tube Web spiders are a more colourful variety that can also leave a lingering wound. Their toxins are weak and cause local symptoms only in most cases.


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