False widow spider infestation forces 2 East London schools to evacuate

A female black widow spider  © STR
Two schools in East London have been forced to evacuate hundreds of students after the discovery of an infestation of false widow spiders.

Spider webs and eggs were discovered at Thomas Buxton School and Osmani School in Tower Hamlets on Friday afternoon. Both primary schools will re-open on Monday morning.

The institutions say they are working to ensure the spiders are removed immediately.

There are no reports of spider bites.

Thomas Buxton said students would have developed a “nasty” allergic reaction if a false black widow spider had bitten them.

“Pest controllers are at the scene and the school building and grounds will be fumigated as a matter of urgency,” it said in a statement.

“It has been confirmed today that we have an infestation of false black widow spiders in the school grounds and building. The spiders can give a nasty bite which may cause an allergic reaction in vulnerable people.

“The safety and wellbeing of the children is our main concern so we have to take immediate action to deal with the problem.

“The entire school building and grounds will have to be fumigated as a matter of urgency. Therefore, we have no option but to close the school immediately. The closure is essential to safely fumigate the nests and remove the eggs.

“School will re-open on Monday November 23 at 8.55am. We are very sorry for the inconvenience and disruption to family life and also to the children’s learning.”

Tower Hamlets council has also expressed concern, saying parents worried about their child’s health should refer them to a GP.

“Pest control teams are currently on the premises of both schools, dealing with the infestation of false widow spiders. The spiders are not considered to be dangerous but do bite.

“Due to health concerns for staff and pupils the schools will be closed until next week.”

The spiders, which are often mistaken for venomous black widows, are not considered to be dangerous.

Thousands of false widows have been found across Britain in recent years. The population is believed to be growing, attracted by an ever warmer climate.