Poisonous Spiders in Britain

a wasp spider image by Henryk Dybka from Fotolia.com

Spiders are eight-legged creatures that belong to the class Arachnida. Though to many of us they look scary, in fact very few pose a serious threat to humans. Britain has its share of poisonous spiders; some are indigenous. Import of goods has been a prime route for entry of non-native poisonous spiders in Britain.


According to the 2010 report of the Natural History Museum of London, these are the common species of poisonous spiders in Britain:

  1. woodlouse spider
  2. tube web spider
  3. false widow spider
  4. walnut orb spider
  5. black lace weaver spider
  6. cellar spider
  7. rustic wolf spider
  8. stone spider
  9. lace weaver
  10. mouse spider
  11. bark sac spider
  12. cross or garden spider
  13. money spider
  14. wasp spider

Newer Species

The museum also has records of bites from non-indigenous spiders including the black widow, the exotic sac spider and the huntsman spider, which are being introduced into Britain with fruit imports. However, it is the soil of plants from foreign lands that these new species mainly use to hitchhike into England, according to Matt Shardlow, a director of Buglife, a charity in UK that works to conserve insects, spiders and earthworms.

Recent Trends

Non-native species have been invading Britain for years. These foreign species of arachnids would usually perish in the harsh winters of the country or would be localised in small areas. However, "Our increasingly warm climate is starting to suit many more spiders," said Stuart Hine of the Natural History Museum in 2008. Not only do these new species thrive throughout the year, but thanks to global warming, they have also started spreading all over the country, establishing colonies.

Effects of Spider Bites

The most common symptoms of bites of poisonous spiders in Britain are swelling and reddening of the skin. These symptoms may take a couple of hours to six days to subside. The bite is associated with pain that may be as light as a prick or as sharp as a bee sting.


Even the bite of the most venomous of the spiders does not cause human death. As a matter of fact, only 0.5 per cent of the spiders of the world have fangs that can pierce through human skin. Of these, very few have venom potent enough to kill a person. Unfortunately, spiders are often blamed for bites from other insects.