A Dublin pet shop owner believes that the infestation of false black widows in Ireland originated in live pet feed shipped from the UK.
The man’s shop and home were ‘overrun’ with the poisonous spiders after eggs found their way into the country in purchased boxes of live crickets, used as reptile feed.
When he contacted the company to complain, he was told that “he wasn’t the first” and maintains he “risked his life” attempting to rid his premises of the arachnoids.
“A lot of pet shops will be sending this feed out to homes across Ireland,” he told Independent.ie. “Children could really be at risk if they get bitten.”
The south Dublin-based shop owner said he found pockets of ‘cotton balls’, the size of a thumbnail and containing around 800 eggs, in both his shop and home – wherever the live feed had been stored.
“It wasn’t until I saw one of these spiders running across my counter that I knew I was in trouble,” he said. “I filled half a Supervalu bag with these cotton balls.”
The man, who now purchases live locusts instead, had been importing 100 boxes of live crickets from the UK for over a year and maintains that this infestation could now be a global problem.
“The company told me that these spiders are only house spiders and they are harmless,” he said. “But I found a cottonball in my chameleon tank and he’s been unwell for weeks now.”
The UK firm reportedly gave the pet shop owner some pesticide and €40 worth of live feed to compensate for the infestation.
The Dublin man wished to remain anonymous as he has not informed his landlord about the infestation and fears he may be heavily penalised or even evicted.