Wednesday 7 December 2016

Black widow spider hitches ride in VW camper van from California to UK

Published 26/08/2015 | 13:29

A deadly black widow spider which was found in a a Volkswagen camper van (Stratford Butterfly Farm/PA)
A deadly black widow spider which was found in a a Volkswagen camper van (Stratford Butterfly Farm/PA)

A deadly black widow spider which hitched a 5,000-mile transatlantic ride in a Volkswagen camper van is now safely secured behind alarmed glass.

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The female spider was discovered when the camper van's British owners took it for a tune-up after importing the vehicle from California, said wildlife experts.

A sharp-eyed mechanic spotted the spider's distinctive markings while jet-washing the van's underside at a garage in Strensham near Worcester.

It had gone undiscovered for 11 months, while the camper van had been kept in storage.

The eight-legged creature, with its black body and bright red hourglass markings on its abdomen, has a highly venomous bite which can in rare cases kill.

The RSPCA was called in and the spider has now been rehomed in an alarmed tank in the Arachnoland exhibit at Stratford Butterfly Farm for visitors to view.

A spokesman for the Stratford-upon-Avon attraction said: "As the spider is renowned for being incredibly tough and living in dark crevices, it was easy for it to remain unnoticed in the camper van.

"It would have eaten insects to survive and caught its prey by snaring it in its web.

"Although living in the van for the last 11 months, it appears completely unscathed after its travels from the USA.

"The black widow, which is female, has now settled into its new home in Stratford, thousands of miles from its original home in California."

Press Association

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