A false widow scare for Limerick woman

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by Alan Jacques

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20150806_161158A LITTLE knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but thankfully, as one County Limerick woman discovered this week, it’s not fatal!

Lisa O’Brien from Askeaton got the fright of her life when she came across what she believed to be a Black Widow Spider while cleaning her kitchen on Monday afternoon.

“As it happens, my son had been showing me pictures in a book about deadly creatures and I remember he was fascinated by the Black Widow. About ten minutes later, I was startled after coming across a really big spider on the fruit basket bearing an uncanny resemblance,” Lisa told the Limerick Post.

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“After checking Google, I thought it might be a Money Spider but a giant one, because the largest Money Spider is 5mm and this was bigger. I wasn’t scared but threw it out in the back garden, which may not have been the best move. If a bird collapses, we will know,” she nervously joked.

“I felt it was a weird one. It wasn’t nice. He was more than 5mm for sure, but the Irish weather can have him now.”

The Askeaton woman’s eldest child was so taken by the episode that he penned a stirring account about his mother’s nasty encounter, even drawing a picture of the intimidating arachnid.
“There was big drama for my two boys who are aged six and nine. They were out in the garden with their walkie talkies the next morning playing spider hunters. They are convinced it was a Black Widow and think it’s all very exciting.”20150807_154505-1
The Limerick Post decided to bypass overactive children’s imaginations and the internet, instead opting for an expert opinion to discover what kind of spider had caused such commotion in one County Limerick home.

“It’s a Small False Widow alright; the species is Steatoda Grossa and it is common and widespread in the southern half of Ireland with a few records from further north in Ireland,” explained leading arachnologist Myles Nolan of the Natural History Museum of Ireland.

The Steatoda Grossa is a poor relation to the False Widow Spider (Steatoda Nobilis), which is larger and can very occasionally have a nasty bite. Not as venomous as the Black Widow, a bite from a False Widow Spider can cause serious allergic reaction in some people and even require medical treatment.

“The Small False Widow lives in and around houses and is essentially harmless. Numerous records from the Cork area. There is no cause for concern. It is definitely not a Black Widow — the kids are winding her up!” Myles suggested.