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Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 9:29 EDT

Biting Spider

The Biting Spider or False Black Widow (Steatoda nobilis) is a species of arachnid native to the Canary Islands. It was accidentally introduced to England around 1870 through imported bananas that were sent to Torquay. It is also found in continental Europe and Africa. Its range is extending northwards and is expected to someday be prominent in the United Kingdom.

This spider resembles the black widow and is sometimes though to be one when spotted. It has a round, over-sized abdomen which is dark in color. The female usually has a pale marble-like marking on the upper side of the abdomen, with a cream-colored band. The female ranges in size from 0.27 to 0.55 inches. The male is generally smaller and has a more elongated abdomen, and less patterned dark-brown markings. The legs are pale brown.

When ready to mate, the male’s pedipalps (mouth feelers) expand into carrot shaped balloons that can hold a sperm covered silk sheet. The male produces sounds during courtship by scraping teeth on the abdomen against a file located on the rear of the carapace (shell-like covering). A cobweb, consisting of an irregular tangle of sticky silk fibers, is constructed by the female. This spider has poor eyesight and relies on vibrations that reaches it when prey comes into contact with the web, or to warn them when larger animals are nearby that could cause harm.

The Biting Spider is not aggressive, and most injuries to humans are caused when one is accidentally squished between clothing or bedding, or maybe when someone brushes against the spider web unknowingly. However, most intrusions from larger creatures will normally cause the spider to flee. The bite is significant in humans, although the effects are not long-lasting. Symptoms of bites include intense pain around the bite, fever and nausea. Although the bite of this spider is painful, it is far less dangerous to humans than the bite from true black widows.

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Biting Spider