A school has been forced to close because of an outbreak of Britain’s most venomous spider.
The Dean Academy, in the Forest of Dean, said it “had identified an issue with false widow spiders” in its ICT block and other areas of the site.
A letter from vice-principal Craig Burns to parents said the school would be shut on Wednesday to be fumigated.
Initially the decision was taken to close the ICT block but further discoveries of the species elsewhere have led to a full school closure.
The school is expected to be open as normal on Thursday.
There are no reports of anyone being bitten by the spiders at the school. There are also no deaths from false widow bites on record in Britain. So what was this all about?! Bug Girl on Wired has a good response. She is NOT happy with the press:
It’s difficult to convey why this is so incredibly silly without using a lot of four letter words, arm waving, and spittle. These spiders are NOT that dangerous. Headlines have used words like “rampaging killer spiders” and “flesh-eating,” but those claims are ridiculous and false.
These little spiders are related to black widows, but other than genetics and web structure, that’s about the end of the resemblance. They do not have venom that dissolves your flesh. They are not “flesh eating,” unless you are a fly or a cricket. They can’t “kill humans with a single bite!“; and there is NO record of their ever having killed anyone in the UK (or elsewhere, best as I can tell).
I like spiders. They are AWESOME and beautiful and should be left to their own since they are not harming anyone. I also get peeved when the media promote ignorance and fear-mongering and demonize creatures that do not deserve it.