This mainly black spider is about 3 inches from tip of legs to the far tips of the other legs. The white specs you see are probably the biscuit crumbs from the container it was placed into.
The spider bit a child's finger today 03/09/12 whilst they were climbing a tree in Southern England. It is black in colour with some reddish brown on the top.
The bite was apparently painful with a little oozing liquid from the wound and is causing stiffness in the finger some 8 hours later. There is a little blue spot under the skin where the bite was.
None of the pictures on the NHM 'bite site' appear quite the same, the abdomen seems a bit longer and thinner than the others of the same colour.
It has been suggested to me it is a simple common house spider. It seems decidedly uncommon to me, to be bitten by a house spider and decidedly non-house being up the tree, unless it was also enjoying the hot day for an adventure !
Any help would be gratefully received on identification. But also ideas on how to prevent the previously fearless child from becoming stereotypically phobic of these critters! Thank you.
Whilst it is not a common "house spider" (these are typically of the Tegenaria species, big & fast moving, but not aggressive or particularly prone to biting), it is a spider often found around buildings, living in holes & cracks in walls. It appears to be a Segestria, very likely Segestria florentina. They can be fairly aggressive, though not dangerous to healthy humans...that's not to say that the bite wasn't harrowing for your child, I'm sure that it was & I certainly wouldn't like to be bitten by one!
There are about a dozen species of spider in the UK that are able to deliver a bite to humans, mostly they go unnoticed, or are dismissed in blissful ignorance of their capabilities. Your child was very unlucky indeed to stumble accross this specimen. In my home I see half a dozen different species of biting spider on a regular basis (I have seen 3 different species in the last half hour)...I used to be a confirmed arachnophobe, however, after a couple of bites (that's in 45years of living cheek by jowl with them) and realising (though unpleasant) that's the worst they can do, I now find them rather fascinating...I now just relocate the larger specimens of spider that are likely to wander around & surprise me, others are far more docile & stick to their webs, I see no reason to interfere with them.
Like bee & wasp stings, these very occasional spider bites can be a fact of life. Being bitten by a Segestria is probably as bad as it gets in the UK, but bear in mind that most people go their whole lives without being bitten and the chances of being bitten again are very low indeed...little consolation right now, I know.
Thank you for your reply, I appreciate your time. It's very good to have a name to put to the biter. The bitee is still fine with spiders but the neighbours are sounding more arachnophobic!
Segestria florentina can be very localised. Where did this happen? Normally they are found near woodyards or railway lines in the South although they are very well established all along the Medway and Thames Estuary. Personally I have always found Segestria florentina to be the scariest spider in the UK in terms of general aggression, size and speed (although I am always ready to have my opinion challenged).
I was terribly phobic of Spiders untill twenty years or so ago when I suddenly realised that there was no one other than 18 stone of me to get these fellers out of the bath, so I decided to learn all I could about them. Now I find that knowlege has power over my phobia, BUT I still jump when a really big Segestria shoots out of its tube web and attacks the blade of grass that I'm using to tickle its trip wires.
Thank you, that's really helpful. I'm pleased to have a name for it. The location was a tiny gathering of trees on a green in the middle of a housing estate in Berkshire. Annoyingly these rare events are just fuel for the arachnophobes in and around the family!