Buglife reaction to London schools spider closure

Thursday 4th October 2018

Buglife notes with concern the closure of schools in Newham because of the discovery of Noble false-widow spiders (Steatoda nobilis).  We consider this to be a radical and unnecessary over-reaction to the tiny risk posed, indeed the spraying of the schools with toxic insecticides may be a higher risk.


Noble false-widow spider are ponderous, solitary and non-aggressive.  A bite from one can cause localised pain, minor swelling, and in extreme cases nausea within a few hours of a bite; symptoms then fade away.  There are no proven cases where the Noble false-widow bite has caused death, coma or permanent injury.  The toxins in the venom are incapable of causing ‘necrosis’ – gangrene-like infections – often attributed to the spider in newspapers.


Despite Noble false widows living in and around hundreds of UK schools for many years we not aware of any incidents of a bite causing significant health impacts to a school child.  These sit-and-wait predators merely inhabit webs in discreet corners eating flies and other insects.


On the other hand there are many severe negative health impacts recorded from exposure to pesticides.


“It is a shame that the education, and potentially the health, of these children is being harmed by this knee-jerk risk assessment”  Said Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow


More on health risks from pesticides here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_effects_of_pesticides