Residents are being urged not to panic after four separate sightings of what are believed to be the poisonous false widow spider in Banburyshire.
With the Latin name Steatoda Nobilis, the false widow is the most dangerous of the 12 species of biting spider known to exist in Britain and recently hit the national headlines when 39-year-old decorator Ricki Whitmore sustained severe damage to his leg after being bitten in Northampton.
Four Banburyshire residents now claim to have spotted the poisonous arachnids.
But James Reynolds of Cotswold Wildlife Park said: “The spiders are not particularly dangerous but people may react to their bites differently, just like bee and wasp stings.
“If people do find them in their house or shed, dispose of them just like any other spider – catch it and release it outside, don’t touch them. The spiders are not aggressive and left to their own devices these animals are of no danger to humans or wildlife.”
Waterloo Drive resident Rachael Ambler said she spotted one of the spiders in a gap between a fence and gate in her back garden last week and killed it straight away because she had seen stories about its nasty bite in a national newspaper.
She said: “I was on early shifts so I went out in the morning looking for the cat.
“I had noticed a bit of a strange web. Out this spider came and I thought, you’re definitely one of those! The colouring was right and it had the skull on the abdomen. It was about the size of a 50p piece.
“I’d heard about someone getting bitten in their bed recently so it was a bit of a fright.”
A second siting of the feared spider was made last week by Kim McDonagh of Banbury, who noticed the creature’s distinctive web hanging from bathroom blinds. “I absolutely hate spiders, I’m petrified of them,” she said. “I phoned my husband and he said to wait until he got home from work but when I went back it had moved so I got a cloth and killed it.”
In a third encounter Ruscote resident Imy May posted a Facebook picture of the False Widow which she caught, killed and froze for preservation.
And Tyrone Gray spotted one in his shed in Chacombe.