Lethal black widow stows away on plane to Sussex

Black widow spiders carry venom that is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnakes

Black widow spiders carry venom that is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnakes

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Workers at Gatwick Airport had a shock when they discovered a lethal stow-away spider in a box of airport parts.

Staff at Aerfin in Gatwick had a shock when they found the 4cm north American black widow spider when unpacking a box from north America on Friday, October 14.

Their bites produce nausea, muscle aches and can paralyse the diaphragm, making breathing difficult

Their bites produce nausea, muscle aches and can paralyse the diaphragm, making breathing difficult

Staff member Rob Green carefully coaxed the spider - now nicknamed Nadia - into a plastic tub and called the RSPCA for help.

He said: “It was a bit of a shock finding her in the box. She must’ve been in there for quite a while as the box was packaged up in Arizona back in December and arrived over here in July. She has done very well to survive that long in there.

“I saw her and realised she wasn’t a normal spider from the UK - but it wasn’t until I saw the red spot on her abdomen that alarm bells rang and we looked up what she was.

“We weren’t frightened as I think there have been hardly any deaths from these spider bites - and Nadia was fine. We popped her in the box and called the RSPCA for help.”

Black widow spiders carry venom that is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s, according to National Geographic.

Their bites produce nausea, muscle aches and can paralyse the diaphragm, making breathing difficult, but in most cases there is no serious damage or death. However bites from black widow spiders can be fatal for small children, the elderly and the infirm, according to National Geographic.

RSPCA Inspector Tony Woodley was called to the depot on Friday and moved the spider to Drusillas Park, in East Sussex for specialist care.

He said: “We certainly don’t have many of these spiders coming into our care or call outs for their rescue!

“It was great these guys saved her and kept her safe - many other people probably would not have been as compassionate and kind. Spiders do give a lot of people the heebie jeebies!”

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