Black widow spiders found in container of tyres

Workers at a Norfolk marine firm had a shock when they opened a container to find it full of dangerous spiders.

Employees at Fendercare Marine, in Seething, were undergoing their usual checks when they discovered that it was not just tyres that had travelled in a container from the USA, but also a number of black widow spiders, which had been breeding.

It seems the spiders entered the container when the tyres were loaded in Arizona, and had since travelled more than 5,000 miles to find themselves in the freezing conditions.

'It is not something you expect to see, especially in the outback of Norfolk,' said Mark Cook, group HSE manager for Fendercare Marine.

He said they had no idea how many there were, but they did remove two for identification purposes.

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'The container is full of tyres and they have been in there breeding, so we can't for safety send guys in to take the tyres out to see how many are in there,' he said.

The company contacted a range of agencies including the RSPCA to see what their next step should be, as experts identified them as black widows.

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Mr Cook said: 'It is quite rare and not something we get on a regular basis, but we are a global operator so it is one of those things. We take containers from all over the place, and our guys are used to checking for wildlife, so when they opened the doors they spotted the spiders and shut the doors to keep them trapped in.'

On Wednesday a pest control expert was called and fogged the container.

Last month, staff at a Great Yarmouth firm found black widow spiders in a package sent from Texas.

Officials at Abate Pest Management, based at Morley St Botolph, attended that incident and said it was the first time they had been called out to black widows in their 14 years.

Black widows are notoriously the most venomous spider in North America, with venom reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake. However, most people who are bitten do not suffer serious damage.

Mr Cook said: 'The poor little creatures have got a bad reputation with people thinking that their bite is immediately fatal, but generally people are just fairly sick.'

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