Spider crisis in London as now SEVEN schools will close

Thousands more children are sent home as infestations of false widow spiders close SEVEN London schools

  • Pest control teams are working to bring the outbreak under control before any more eggs hatch
  • Bites from the spiders can cause flu-like symptoms, swelling or a nasty infection 
  • Eastlea Community School will close tomorrow as its headteacher is forcing pupils to come to school so they can be given homework 

Seven schools in east London are being forced to close their doors after becoming infested by Britain’s deadliest spider.

After False Widows were discovered by Newham’s Environmental Team, four primary schools and two secondary schools have closed.

Another secondary, Eastlea Community School will close tomorrow as its headteacher is forcing pupils to come to school and sit in spider-infested classrooms – so they can be given homework.

The map shows the seven schools in east London which have been closed due to the spiders

After False Widows were discovered by Newham’s Environmental Team, four primary schools and two secondary schools have closed

False widow bites can cause flu-like symptoms, swelling or a nasty infection if left untreated – and could even kill in rare circumstances. Pictured, Ellen Wilkinson Primary School

Pest control teams are now working to bring the outbreak under control before any more eggs hatch. Pictured Star Lane Primary School 

Bites from the spiders, which are the size of a 50p coin,  can cause flu-like symptoms, swelling or a nasty infection if left untreated – and could even kill in rare circumstances.

Pest control teams are now working to bring the outbreak under control before any more eggs hatch. 

Despite looking similar to the venomous black widow, the False Widow could only give you a small and relatively harmless bite. Pictured, Rokeby Secondary School

A Newham council spokeswoman told The Evening Standard: ‘We are working with the schools to ensure that children continue to receive an education whilst closed.’ 

Rokeby secondary in Canning Town will be closed until October 29.

The other affected schools are Star Primary in Beckton, Ellen Wilkinson Primary in Canning Town and Lister Community School in Plaistow, which will close until further notice.

Since the 1980s the false widow species has established populations in the majority of the southern counties. Pictured, Lister Community School

Charlotte Robinson headteacher of Rokeby said a pest control company said clearing the spiders would take three weeks.

In a letter to parents of the school’s 770 pupils, she wrote: ‘I have had to take the difficult decision to close Rokeby School to students and staff until Monday, October 29.

‘We have engaged a company to deal with and eradicate this pest, they have estimated that this will take up to three weeks.

‘The safety and wellbeing of students and staff must be our priority so whilst I understand that this may be very inconvenient for you it is in your child’s best interest to remain at home and not at school.’ 

Eastlea Community School headteacher Stephen Gillat confirmed the threat of spiders in a letter to students.

It read: ‘Upon Newham environmental health inspecting Eastlea, an infestation of spiders were discovered in and around the perimeter of our buildings.

‘Therefore, I have had to take the difficult decision to close Eastlea Community School to students and staff.

‘We have engaged a company to deal with and eradicate this pest and they will do this as quickly as possible.


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‘However, they have estimated that this will take up to three weeks.’

David Cross, head of Technical Training Academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said the spiders have been around for some time.

He said: ‘False Widow Spiders have brown bulbous abdomens with pale markings, and the females can grow up to 15mm.

Anthony Wilson, headteacher of Lister Community School wrote to parents to explain that the school would be closing after the spiders were found on the site

‘The spiders will only bite humans if they become frightened, or if they are accidentally provoked or squeezed.

‘Their venom can make children ill, but bites in adults will usually only cause a temporary pain and swelling.

‘The false widow spider was accidentally imported to the UK about 150 years ago and they are adapting to our temperate climate, with increased sightings across the country.’      

What are false widow spiders? 

  • False widows were first recorded in the UK in the 1870s after it is believed they stowed away on cargo ships from their native Madeira and Canary Islands  
  • Since the 1980s the false widow species has established populations in the majority of the southern counties
  • False widows do have a venomous bite but  the venom is not particularly potent for humans
  • Symptoms of a bite is pain which may radiate away from it
  • There are over 650 species of the spider in the UK

 

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