A man was left in off-the-scale agony with his finger rotting away after a bite from ‘Britain’s most dangerous spider‘. Jason Missey was moving wood in his garden in Broadstairs, Kent, when he felt something like a sting but ‘nothing you’d worry about’.
He said: ‘We get horseflies down here and things like that, so it felt like that sort of thing. Nothing you’d worry about.
‘It looked literally like a horsefly bite to start with, with a bit of swelling around it.
‘And then as it went on, it got a bit worse, and a bit worse, and worse – and then swelling, pus, skin coming off. I ended up going to hospital, and over six weeks I had to pull my finger apart basically.’
A man was left in off-the-scale agony with his finger rotting away after a bite from ‘Britain’s most dangerous spider’
Jason Missey was moving wood in his garden in Broadstairs, Kent, when he felt something like a sting but ‘nothing you’d worry about’
How to spot a noble false widow spider
Noble false widows are the largest of the three false widow species likely to be found near homes.
The front section of their body is dark brown, as are the legs.
The abdomen (the large, oval-shaped rear part of the body) can be variable, with patterns of cream and dark brown marks (sometimes described as skull-shaped) though often with very few markings at all.
Doctors identified Jason’s injury as a spider bite, and the 50-year-old recalls flicking away a spider at the time of the ‘sting’.
He believes it was a noble false widow, and has photographed a specimen in his garden.
The species is ‘widely regarded as the most dangerous spider breeding in Britain,’ according to a 2020 paper by Clive Hambler, an Oxford University zoologist.
Gruesome images and videos taken by Jason show how the spider’s venom started to kill his flesh.
At first, the damage appeared to be limited to an angry red spot on his finger.
But before long, his top layer of skin was gone, leaving an open wound oozing pus in its place.
Asked to rate the pain out of ten, Jason said 11.
‘You have to just let it rot away to start with to be honest,’ he said.
‘Every two days you could take the dressing off, and then you had to pull dead parts off by yourself.
‘It was painful. When it was down to virtually the tendons and the muscle, when you’ve got tweezers on bits, pulling things that aren’t supposed to be pulled, it was very painful.
At first, the damage appeared to be limited to an angry red spot on his finger. But before long, his top layer of skin was gone, leaving an open wound oozing pus in its place
Jason believes the bite was from a noble false widow, and has photographed a specimen in his garden
‘I’ve got a big pain threshold but it was bad; very bad.’
Jason, who runs a construction firm with his dad, had to spend several weeks on light duties as he waited for his finger to heal.
And though he doesn’t want people to be scared of spiders on the whole, he says people should familiarise themselves with the noble false widow’s appearance,
‘I don’t want people attacking nature because of one type of spider,’ he said.
‘Just go online and look at what they look like.
‘We have loads down here and I’m always wary now. I now know what I’m looking for.’
ARACHNOPHOBIA IS IN OUR DNA
Recent research has claimed that a fear of spiders is a survival trait written into our DNA.
Dating back hundreds of thousands of years, the instinct to avoid arachnids developed as an evolutionary response to a dangerous threat, the academics suggest.
It could mean that arachnophobia, one of the most crippling of phobias, represents a finely tuned survival instinct.
And it could date back to early human evolution in Africa, where spiders with very strong venom have existed millions of years ago.
Study leader Joshua New, of Columbia University in New York, said: ‘A number of spider species with potent, vertebrate specific venoms populated Africa long before hominoids and have co-existed there for tens of millions of years.
‘Humans were at perennial, unpredictable and significant risk of encountering highly venomous spiders in their ancestral environments.’