The false widow species that features most in the media is the noble false widow, Steatoda nobilis.
Identification and Advisory Service manager Stuart Hine addresses some common concerns.
In no way can this species be considered deadly. This is a species of spider that is able to bite. It has frequently been recorded as biting and this does usually lead to a degree of pain in those that are unfortunate enough to be bitten.
From the records we have received at the Identification and Advisory Service over the last 15 years this species is implicated in bites more than any other spider. This is likely to be largely due to its fondness for living in our homes but also increasing awareness of this species.
Although there have been several media reports of very severe symptoms resulting from the bite of this spider, few, if any, have been backed up by formal identification of the spider that caused the bite.
These extraordinary symptoms are more likely to be caused by other medical complications, such as bacterial infection of a wound that may or may not be attributable to a spider bite.
Even in homes with several resident noble false widow spiders you are statistically far more likely to be stung by a wasp or bitten by a dog, both of which can be medically significant.
I have seen this spider become increasingly numerous around my home and garden over the last five years. I am happy living alongside this spider with my wife, three children, cat, dog and chickens – we are aware but not worried and any I find setting up home indoors are escorted into the garden.
There is little you can do to eliminate this species from the outside of your home and garden. It would also be false economy to pay for remedial pest control as the spider will only recolonize from the immediate area and can do so surprisingly quickly.
The best advice would be to be aware, learn how to distinguish this spider from other similar looking species and to remove any from your home if you are inclined to.