Deadly cargo - black widow spider found in Suffolk

MARTLESHAM: It is one of the deadliest insects on the planet and hails from the other side of the world.

But incredibly, a black widow spider managed to find itself in Suffolk –after surviving a journey from Singapore!

Staff at road haulage services firm Winlen Bay in Beardmore Park, Martlesham Heath, found the deadly creature in a container.

The killer arachnid – well-known for its distinctive red hour-glass marking on its body and fabled because the female will eat its mate after love-making – had arrived in Britain in a metal cargo box delivered at the Port of Felixstowe after surviving the journey from Singapore.

Amazingly, staff at the company took it in their stride and put the discovery down to just one of the hazards they occasionally find when dealing with containers from far and wide.


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Firms opening boxes, often to sort the cargo ready for distribution to various centres, can find all sorts of creatures.

“It’s quite a regular occurrence really – nothing unusual for us,” said a spokeswoman at Winlen Bay.

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“We have carried out the right procedures and had the container fumigated.”

Anyone finding a dangerous spider or other insect needs permission from Suffolk Coastal District Council to use relevant poisons to destroy the creature.

A council spokesman said: “Up until 2008, people needed to contact Defra to get official approval to use the relevant poisons, but regulations passed then mean that they need the go-ahead from this council.”

Four years ago, staff at Cargo Secure in Walton Avenue, Felixstowe, found killer redback spiders in a consignment of Volkswagen camper vans shipped from Adelaide, Australia.

Council officers advised the company on where to find anti-venom as specialist pest control contractors were brought in to dispose of the dead and alive spiders, eggs, webs and nests.

? What do you think should be done to deal with insects and animals arriving in goods? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Black widow

? The black widow is a highly-venomous spider found in several parts of the world – with the female carrying the deadly poison.

? Sometimes the female will eat her male mate after sex.

? The female is about one-and-a-half inches long, shiny black with a red hour-glass shape on her body. Males are much smaller.

? They eat woodlice, diplopods and other spiders.

? Experts have warned that with global warming, spiders escaping from cargos could set up colonies in Britain.

n The poison of the black widow spider was used on killer darts in versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes classic The Sign of Four.

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