January 15, 2013
Black Widow Stowaways Increasingly Making The Voyage To England
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Onlinebla
In certain parts of the U.S. — Arizona, for example — black widow spiders are quite common. While this familiarity might not make them any less frightening, people in these areas are at least aware of the tiny eight-legged predators and know how to respond when they happen to cross paths with one of these potentially deadly arachnids.
Recently, however, these spiders have been showing up in some very unusual places, confronting people who have never seen such a spider in their life. According to several media outlets, one British marine company has been getting more than they paid for in their shipments of tires — they´ve also been shipped a batch of black widow spiders.
Fendercare Marine first noticed these lethal little stowaways in November and has since noticed an unexplained increase in the number of spiders in their tire shipments in recent weeks. According to John Blake, a pest controller from Norwich, England who spoke with the BBC, the reason for this increase has so far gone unexplained.
"We've certainly had to become more knowledgeable about the spiders and read up on their habits and lifestyle,” said Mr. Blake. “As to why we're suddenly getting so many at the moment is a bit unknown. It might simply be that people are just becoming more aware about what they look like. It wouldn't surprise me if there have been loads of other cases across the country, but people just haven't reported them."
The health and safety boss at Fendercare Marine has his own theory as to why these black widows have suddenly increased in numbers. Speaking to Fox News, Mr. Cook said he believes these spiders nest in the tire containers just before making the 5,000-mile trek across the big pond. At some point in the trip, the baby spiders hatch inside the crates, ready to greet the unsuspecting inhabitants of the Old World.
It's not something you expect to see, especially in the outback of Norfolk,” said Mr. Cook. “We take containers from all over the place, and our guys are used to checking for wildlife, so when they opened the doors they spotted the spiders and shut the doors to keep them trapped in.”
℠Black widow´ is the common name for a genus of spider known as Latrodectus, which includes some 32 species found across the globe. The genus is so named for the tendency of some females to cannibalize their male partners immediately following mating. The poison in a black widow´s bite is 15 times more potent than a rattlesnake. Fortunately, however, these spiders can only deliver a small amount of venom per bite, meaning that while their bites are extremely painful, they are rarely fatal.
As result of the recurring incidence of black widow stowaways, Fendercare Marine has instructed their employees on how to behave when they come across these American spiders.
"We've been advising staff dealing with container goods to make sure they are wearing gloves,” said Mr. Cook. "The spiders will only bite if they feel threatened, so when perhaps you're about to put your hand on one. If you have gloves on they physically can't bite through them. It's a case of people bringing in imports to be very aware of what else is in the container."
Fendercare Marine is also calling in pest control workers to fumigate these spider-bearing containers before their employees crack them open in the cooler climes of Norfolk.