Mental health and invertebrate charities join forces to expose spider scare stories

Thursday 5th December 2013

Invertebrate Conservation charity Buglife has teamed up with phobia society Anxiety UK to highlight the inappropriate portrayal of the recent portrayal of the noble false widow spider in the media. Scare stories have built the spider up to be an aggressive attacker of people with a poison so potent that it poses a real threat to life and limb.

The reality is very different the noble false widow is a slow moving, shy spider that will on bite as a last resort when threatened. The strength of poison and bite are akin to a wasp sting and pose no threat to life or limb unless suffering an allergic reaction, none so far recorded, or a secondary infection sets in from getting dirt in the bite wound.

Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife commented: “These scare stories have led to the demonising of spiders with purported sightings all over the UK, most commonly garden orb spiders. The spider is one of our most useful invertebrates playing a valuable role in controlling populations but has always had a dark reputation dating back to nursery rhymes and probably further,( little Miss Muffet). These fictitious scare stories merely serve to in flame arachnid hatred and have led to the killing of many harmless domestic spiders.”

Anxiety UK added: “Anxiety UK works hard with people to help them conquer their fears of which arachnophobia is a common one.   Sensational rumour mongering of the kind we have seen over the noble false widow merely serves to reinforce these phobias and undermine the good work organisations such as ourselves carry out to help people overcome such anxiety difficulties. .”

Notes to Editors:

• Buglife-The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is the only charity in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and is actively working to save Britain's rarest bugs, bees, butterflies, ants, worms, beetles and many more fascinating invertebrates. Further information is available on Buglife’s website at follow us on Twitter @buzz_dont_tweet and ‘Like us’ on Facebook: Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust.
• Anxiety UK is Anxiety UK is a user-led charity with more than forty years’ experience in supporting those living with anxiety. Anxiety disorders are common and treatable. Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with these conditions by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including fast access to reduced cost 1:1 therapy services. The Anxiety UK helpline alone receives over 16,000 calls a year from people suffering from phobias and anxiety disorders. The charity provides support to people with any anxiety condition, or specific phobia such as fear of spiders, blushing, vomiting, being alone, public speaking, heights – in fact, any fear that stops people from living their lives to the full.