FOUR schools in London have been shut for up to month after being infested by false widow spiders.
Two primary schools and two secondary schools have closed after Britain’s most venomous spider was found on site.
False widow spiders are distinctive because of their shiny, black flesh, bulbous bodies, thick legs and skull-like patterns
The discovery of the spiders were made by Newham’s Environmental Team in east London.
Pest control teams are now working to bring the outbreak under control before any more eggs hatch.
One of the schools affected, Rokeby secondary in Canning Town, will remain shut until October 29.
Star Primary in Beckton, Ellen Wilkinson Primary in Canning Town and Lister Community School in Plaistow have also had to close until further notice.
Rokeby head teacher, Charlotte Robinson, said a pest control company estimated it would take three weeks to clear the spiders.
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.”
The false widow spider’s bite is no more venomous than a bee or wasp sting, experts have said
What is the false widow spider? Are they in the UK?
Steatoda Nobilis – commonly known as the false widow spider – is native to Madeira and the Canary islands, and is believed to have arrived on British shores via a cargo transporter before 1879.
It is thought to have thrived in the UK in recent years due to milder winters.
In 2017, reports revealed that the eight-legged beasties had begun making their way into British homes as temperatures dropped.
The spider is nocturnal and will normally spend the day sleeping inside a crack or hole close to its web.
False widows like dry, warm environments where they will be unlikely to be disturbed. This is often what brings them into people’s homes.
The spiders are most commonly seen in the south of the country, but reported sightings suggest they are moving northwards.