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Action stations at RNAS Culdrose as 'invasion' of spiders tackled

By West Briton  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

The noble false widow spider. : Stuart Hine and the Natural History Museum.

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AN "INVASION" of spiders has led to RNAS Culdrose calling in environmental health personnel to tackle the intruders.

A larger than usual number of noble false widow spiders have been found in the base's store warehouse.

The warehouse has not been closed, due to the importance of the equipment it stocks for operations at home and overseas, although there has been some disruption.

It stocks, in a Navy spokesman's words, "everything from pencils to rotor blades".

The spokesman said that there had been no reports of any personnel being bitten by the spiders.

This species of arthropod is said to be indigenous to Britain since the late 1800s.

"These spiders can be found in most houses, they are indigenous to Britain and can be found anywhere south of Scotland," she said.

They are said to have a "non-aggressive nature", but if provoked can give a bite like a bee sting.

Added the spokesman: "The air station is to liaise with environmental health personnel and has taken precautions to contain the spiders within the stores' building."

There had been minimal disruption, but she added: "In the meantime, it is business as usual for the stores' personnel who continue to provide essential equipment to Culdrose units at the station and overseas."

She said the spiders would be dealt with humanely. "We are making sure that staff are protected."

The base also had to ensure that the work of the stores could continue.

"It is a massive area in terms of the equipment it holds."

This included equipment for personnel serving in locations such as Afghanistan.

Asked how many spiders there were in the warehouse, the spokesman said: "More than normal."

Andrew Whitehouse, of wildlife charity Buglife, said the spider's bite was not dangerous, although this depended on whether the "victim" already had a health condition.

The Culdrose situation echoes a similar alert at a Suffolk air base last month.

A "suspicious spider" spotted in the bar of the officers' mess forced the closure of part of the Wattisham air base due to fears that a black widow spider was on the loose.

But in that case, too, it was found to be a noble false widow spider.

The buildings were isolated for fumigation and were later reopened.

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