Humberside

Deadly black widow spiders found in Barton-upon-Humber

Black Widow in jar
Image caption The spiders display a distinctive red hour-glass marking on their abdomen.

Four black widow spiders were found by workers in North Lincolnshire after hitching a ride in a consignment of jet engines from the US.

The venomous visitors dropped out of the engines close to an engineer at TC Power in Barton-upon-Humber.

Managing director Stuart Elliott said they had to stop work as soon as the spiders were discovered.

The firm has put the spiders in a glass container and are planning to rehome them with local spider experts.

"One of our engineers was actually underneath the engine," said Mr Elliott.

"One of his colleagues had noticed that a black spider had appeared out of the bottom of the engine frame and was reared up on his back legs. So we pulled everybody off the engines at that point."

Staff identified the spider on the internet by the distinctive red hour glass marking on its abdomen.

The Black Widow is one of the world's most venomous spiders. It is native to North and Central America.

Fed with flies

Their name derives from the belief that the females eat the male after mating, something naturalists say rarely happens in the wild.

The females are twice the size of the male and possess a powerful venom designed to kill much larger prey.

Craig Gledhill from the Jungle Zoo in Cleethorpes was approached by the firm for advice on dealing with the spiders.

He said that a bite could prove fatal for some people.

"A healthy human, although it would be a very serious incident if they were to be bitten, if they received quite quick medical treatment they most likely would survive.

"If the individual bitten was elderly or a small child or anybody with a heart or respiratory problem, then they would be in great danger from the neurotoxic venom."

The animals are currently housed in a glass container and are being fed with flies by the workers. The company plans to give them to local zoos and other spider specialists.

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