AN INVASION of venomous spiders has been discovered at Dean Academy in Lydney.
It will be closed tomorrow as a result.
The decision was made on advice from the health and safety unit at Gloucestershire Local Authority and pest control experts drafted in from Chepstow.
A letter was sent out to all parents from Vice Principle Craig Burns who said the advice had been taken in the best interests of the students’ health and safety.
The potentially dangerous ‘false widow’ spiders were first discovered in the Information Computer Technology block at the academy on Monday afternoon.
The entire ICT block was shut down all day today (Tuesday)so fumigation could take place, before pupils were bitten.
As more spiders were discovered elsewhere in the school, it was left with no option but for a full closure so further pest control could be completed.
In his letter, Mr Burns said: “The Health and Safety unit and pest control feel that we have dealt with the matter quickly and efficiently and taken appropriate early action.
“There have been no reports of anyone being bitten by the ‘false widow’ spiders at the academy but if you have any concerns please seek medical advice.
“Any pre-planned meetings, sports fixtures or extra-curricular activities will not take place.
The academy will be open as normal on Thursday, October 24.
Gloucestershire spider recorder David Haigh said the national hysteria surrounding recent sightings have given the bug a bad wrap.
He said: “There has been a certain amount of hysteria surrounding these false widow spiders, but the frenzy surrounding them has been somewhat unfair.
“Although there must be a certain degree of caution when approaching these kind of spiders, they are not aggressive.
“Evidence to relate the injuries reported to some people who have been bitten is also inconclusive. They could have been caused by MRSA or septicaemia. Most victims do not see the spider, but report to hospital. Once two puncture wounds are seen, doctors assume it is as a result of a spider bite but that isn’t always the case.
“False widows have become more common across the county after a series of warm winters. Last winter was the first harsh winter in some time, up until then warmer temperatures have allowed the species the thrive.”
Mr Haigh, who works with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, said sheds with rabbit hutches can provide an ideal place for the arachnids to hibernate over the winter.
The county has two species of false widow.
Steadoa nobilis is pale and patterned and seen as more dangerous than its cousin, the slightly smaller Steadoa grossa, which is darker in colour.