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Q: Poisonous spiders in th UK ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Poisonous spiders in th UK
Category: Science
Asked by: assurance-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 15 Sep 2003 05:34 PDT
Expires: 15 Oct 2003 05:34 PDT
Question ID: 255997
I am moderately arachnophobic and live near to Liverpool docks in the

I want to identify A)local spiders and B) those accidentally imported
at the docks that might bite in any way, ranging from a physical nip
to lethal venom.  (A is more important than B).  I'm looking for
images of the culprits and how they might attack, and what effects
they could have.  fear comes from ignorance, so by learning I might
stop running away from harmless things while my children rescue me.
Subject: Re: Poisonous spiders in th UK
Answered By: hummer-ga on 15 Sep 2003 10:57 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi assurance,

No question, we can all sympathize with you! Knowledge and familarity
of spiders is a good place to start, but you will also need to take
care of the emotional side (phobia) as well. Dealing with spiders can
be compared to picking mushrooms - just as we only need to know about
whether the mushroom in hand is safe to eat, the only spider that is
important to you at the time is the one you are looking at. Therefore,
learning about an entire list of spiders for the average person is
impractical because the chances of you ever meeting up with most of
them are very remote. If you learn how to identify the poisonous
spiders that you have the most chance of encountering, you will know
that it is likely the others are safe. That said, rest assured that
spiders do not seek out human victims - they would rather just be left

I've divided my answer into four sections:

I.   First things first.

II.  Learn to identify the poisonous spiders that can be found in your

III. Bookmark internet sites which identify spiders.

IV.  Buy a field manual.

V.   Try to deal with your phobia.

I. Read the book "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White (your kids will enjoy
it too). Guaranteed, you will never view spiders the same after
reading this book.

Fortunately, reasonably priced copies are not hard to come by. Here's
an example on Abebooks (your local library probably has a copy too):

Araneae, Spiders of North-West Europe:
"I receive many questions about poisonous/venomous spiders. Most
spiders use venom to kill their prey. This venom is almost always
harmless to humans. However, there are a few exceptions. In Europe
there is one known spider, called the black widow, whose bite can be
lethal to young children and elderly people. It lives in the southern
parts of Europe. Also the bite of a water spider can be harmful and
should be avoided. There are some spiders dangerous in other
continents, like the brown recluse. If there are venomous spiders in
your neighborhood, you will probably know by word of mouth. If you
have never heard of dangerous spiders from the people in your
neighborhood it is not very likely the spiders around your house are
venomous to you or your pets."
Ed Nieuwenhuys Copyright 1996-2002

Identifying the Brown Recluse Spider:

IMAGES: Brown Recluse:


Identifying the Black Widow spider:

IMAGES: Black Widow:


Bites and Stings of medically important venomous arthropods:
"Considering that by far, most of the species with which we share the
Earth are arthropods, and that many thousands of these species possess
venom, envenomation by arthropods remains remarkably uncommon. This is
due to two factors. First, most venoms are used for capturing prey,
and humans are too large to be prey for arthropods except parasitic
and blood feeding species. Second, those arthropods which use their
venom for defense (and most will if pressed) generally do so as a last

III. Internet Guides:

NICK'S Spiders of Britain and Europe:

NICK'S Basic Spider Information:

NICK'S Spider Gallery of Common or Important Spiders:

Spider Location Chart:
"This table, the drawings of spiders and webs below will make it
easier to identify a spider. Together with the thumbnail page you can
find the family or your spider."

Spider Gallery:

British Arachnological Society: Click on SPIDER CHECK LIST for "a
revised check list of British Spiders":


Collins Field Guide: 
Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe.
Michael J. Roberts

"This is the spider equivalent of the above and is unusual in that I
have not yet heard anyone say anything against it. More competent and
cheaper than anything comparable on the market at the moment this is
The Book on Spiders for anyone with an interest in its remit, who
doesn't have 160.00 to spend on the complete spiders of Britain and
Ireland by the same author. Within its 380 pages it contains 288
excellent colour illustrations, and over 1 500 b/w drawings which
include epigyne and palpal illustrations of 450 of the larger species
as well as pictorial keys to family and and genus. Alongside these is
a comprehensive text description of each species including information
on habitat and distribution. Before all of this is a 75 page
introduction to the biology of spiders including sections on
observing, catching, identifying and preserving specimens. All in all
an essential book for all people interested in spiders as well as for
libraries schools and universities.
Highly Recommended"


"1) Apart from a few scorpions and spiders which are truly dangerous
to human, the rest are simply harmless life forms and 2) There are no
dangerous spiders in Europe; those live in Africa and other tropical
places. Nevertheless, one spider, which can be lethal to young
children and old people, is the black widow, which is most commonly
encountered in the southern parts of Europe. Also, the bite of the
water spider and the brown recluse, seen in the continent, can be
harmful and should be avoided. All the rest use poison to kill their
prey but their venom is harmless to humans."
Copyright 2002 by PageWise, Inc.

Fear of Snakes, Spiders Rooted in Evolution, Study Finds:

Can Hypnosis Help With My Fear of Spiders?

VR Therapy for Spider Phobia:


Additional Links:

Spider Glossary:

"The following list is provided as a guide to the arachnological
publications and societies of the world. It is currently the most
extensive list on this topic anywhere. No need to look further.":

Web Gateway For Links on The Widow Spiders:

Humane Spider Catcher:

British Tarantula society:

I hope I've been able to get you off on a good start to learning about
spiders. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask
before rating my answer. Lastly, as you learn about spiders and grow
to appreciate them, it will become less difficult to get near them.
Have you ever watched a spider weave a web? It is really fascinating,
they put so much work into it - and what gorgeous works of art.

Thank you,

Google Search Terms Used:

"spiders of britain"
"Brown Recluse Spider"
"black widow spider"
"spiders of england"
"common spiders" guide england  
arachnid england species
assurance-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for your time on this one, hummer-ga.  There is a lot ot sift
through, but there are tables and photos, as I wanted.  Just looking
at the photos gave me stress pains in my chest!  I haven't yet found
pictures of the monsters that come in my house, but it does look like
a comprehensive list.  i'd love to send a tip, but my wife will
already complain that I have spent money on the question.  Maybe she
is more scary than the spiders!



Subject: Re: Poisonous spiders in th UK
From: hummer-ga on 17 Sep 2003 06:59 PDT
Thank you for your thank you, Assurance, I appreciate it and I hope
you can grow to enjoy your little house guests. Although I've never
had the desire to pick one up, I do enjoy watching spiders - just the
other day we noticed that one of the egg sacs that we had left by the
kitchen window had opened and out came all of our little hatchlings.
One thing that will never cease to amaze me is their ability to
seemingly come back from the dead. We often find spiders in our
kitchen sink, I'm not sure why but perhaps they are looking for a
drink of water. If all is well, I make a ladder for them by draping
the washcloth down the side of the sink and they are able to climb
out. However, there have been times that they have gone unnoticed, and
sad to say, they end up in the dishwater. Well, there it is, this
sodden, lifeless, little lump that in no way resembles a spider. I
discovered that if you carefully place it on a piece of paper
towelling and leave it on the window sill, throughout the day it will
dry out and very gradually reanimate - first one leg will stretch,
then another, until finally you go to check on its progress and it is
I wasn't kidding about "Charlotte's Web" - if your wife enjoys tear
jerkers, this is a sure winner (yes, it's a kids' book, but it holds a
message for us all).

Take care,
Subject: Re: Poisonous spiders in th UK
From: krezack-ga on 18 Oct 2003 00:18 PDT
Ah, hummer, you are an educated sort. Few people nowadays realise just
how harmless arachnae really are.

The last known death from a spider bite in Australia was in 1981. And
we have the Sydney funnel-web over here!

To the author of this question, I suggest you begin to acquiant
yourself with spiders more often. Images first, and then the spiders
themselves. Why, you ask? Because this way you can train your mind not
to be so fearful of them. Good luck!
Subject: Re: Poisonous spiders in th UK
From: hummer-ga on 21 Oct 2003 10:31 PDT
Hello krezack,

Thank you for your nice note, and welcome to Google Answers - I hope
you enjoy yourself here.
I used to be afraid of bees - I would run in terror if one came
buzzing within a few feet of me. Today I can walk through a field of
flowers without batting an eyelash. I'm not sure how I lost my fear -
it happened very slowly over the years. I think I probably resented
having to interrupt my activity to go running into the house and so I
made myself stand my ground. I came to learn that bees are almost as
fascinating as spiders, and like spiders, they have more important
things to do than to attack me - really, they could care less! We must
get out of the mind set of "us" against "them" - we're all a part of
the whole and we all can go about our business side-by-side if we
learn to respect one another.

Hope to see you around, krezack,

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