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. .”