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False Widow spider invasion shuts Dean Academy school

By The Citizen  |  Posted: October 22, 2013

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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.

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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.

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6 comments

  • Trollhunter_X  |  October 23 2013, 3:32AM

    'Steatoda', not 'steadoa'. Not as if you haven't already been told...

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  • forester_girl  |  October 22 2013, 11:07PM

    Other countries with poisonous pests take regular measures in homes, schools, offices ect, and they have similar risks to this. If the place is being fumigated I for one wouldn't want my kid sitting breathing that in. May seem over the top, but a home may only have several people in, a school could have hundreds if not thousands in and out all the time, would only take one person to have a reaction and they'd sue the place!

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  • bonzaharris1  |  October 22 2013, 7:10PM

    I wouldn't step in the place for love or money if there was an invasion of spiders, makes my flesh crawl just thinking about it. All windows and doors here are firmly shut, conkers on windowsills .... and a fat lazy cat for back up !!

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  • valhalla2010  |  October 22 2013, 6:54PM

    What ridiculous hysteria!

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  • Davesmith123  |  October 22 2013, 5:24PM

    Yuk !!

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  • marty53  |  October 22 2013, 4:48PM

    AN INVASION of venomous spiders have... An invasion of spiders HAS... Poor English TiG, and a poor example to set for readers.

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