LOCAL residents have been left “petrified” at the outbreak of False Widow spiders across the capital.
The venomous spiders have forced three more schools to close this week – after earlier closing six schools across Newham, East London.
The John F Kennedy Special School became the latest to shut its two campuses in Stratford and Beckton “until further notice” due to an infestation of the creepy crawlers.
While earlier this week, Godwin Junior School in Forest Gate shut on Wednesday as fumigators battled to rid it of the spiders.
Ron Brampton, 86, who lives directly opposite Forest Gate school, said he is “very worried.”
He added: “It is far too close to home. I’ve never heard of anything like it.
“They seem to be everywhere, we are just hoping they don’t spread to residents’ homes.”
Local resident Naomi Bryan, 25, claimed everyone living nearby was “petrified”.
She said: “Everyone is petrified that they could end up being an infestation in their homes, not only the schools.
“There are a lot of very worried mummies around. These spiders are very dangerous after all.”
False widow spiders are about the size of a 50p coin and are the most dangerous spider species in the UK.
Their bites can be extremely painful and leave small puncture marks on the skin.
Last week it emerged 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.
Eastlea Community School has announced it will shut until October 29 while the nursery at Monega Primary has shut until October 15 and Earlham Primary closed for one day last week.
On Friday morning, at Rokeby school, pest control fumigators dressed in white body suits could be seen exterminating the deadly False Widow in the school’s playground.
One local mother, whose child attends the school, said she was “very concerned” at the closure.
She added: “We don’t know how long the schools are going to be closed for. And how on earth it transferred from school to school in the first place.
“It surely means that residents’ homes could be next.”
Expectant-dad David Courtnedge, 40, who lives next door to Lister school in Plaistow, claimed that his six-month pregnant wife is “living in fear” because of the spiders.
He said: “It is certainly worrying. We are right in the middle of two of the schools. It is frightening. What’s to say they don’t start appearing in our home?
“They are dangerous creatures.”
Dad of two, Michael Adedayo, 34, whose son, 4, attends Star Primary school, told The Sun he was concerned about his son eventually returning to school.
He said: “I am very worried because I do not know what my son is going back into when it eventually re-opens.
“I am troubled that he and the other kids could be going back into danger. I don’t know what is going on.
“I just trust they are doing their best to fix it. But who knows what will happen. It is certainly worrying me. How has it been allowed to spread like this?”
Nighat Mahmood, 60, who lives by Eastleigh Community school, said she was “very frightened”.
She added: “The spiders could come into my house. It is terrifying. I can’t even open the windows I’m so scared that the spiders could spread to my home.”
Huseyin Topal, 51, who runs the JD corner-shop by Star Lane school, said that the school closing has impacted his business badly.
He said: “kids and teachers are my main customers. We have had bad business recently. I am more worried about that than the spiders spreading here.”
WHAT IS THE FALSE WIDOW SPIDER?
False widow spiders are distinctive for their shiny, black flesh, bulbous bodies, thick legs and skull-like patterns.
Millions of false widows, Britain’s most venomous spider, have been found across the UK and the population is believed to be growing.
The species has a brown bulbous abdomen with cream markings that look like a skull. They have long legs and can reach about 15mm in size.
Also known as ‘steatoda nobilis’, the spider is frequently confused for the black widow, which has deadly venom.
Dr Deborah Turbitt, deputy director for Public Health London, said: “If you have been bitten, gently wash the affected area with soap and water.
“If symptoms don’t respond to these measures, there is severe swelling, or the bite is around the eyes, seek immediate medical attention.”
A spokeswoman for Newham council said: “Original estimates suggested schools would be closed for as long as three weeks, however by working closely with the schools, pest professionals and risk assessment experts we have minimised the impact on children’s learning and significantly reduced the amount of time a school has had to close.”
Councillor Julianne Marriott, cabinet member for education, said: “No head teacher wants to be in a position where they have to close their school. Our head teachers know their schools and pupils best, and have their children’s welfare as top priority.
“They have not made these decisions lightly and we fully support the actions they’ve taken. We have different types of schools comprising new buildings and old, which have different number of spiders. Our schools cater for pupils with a variety of differing needs that they need to accommodate.
“The school closures have been of varying lengths of time based on the advice of pest control professionals and detailed risk assessments. Many of the affected schools are reopening next week and have worked with other schools, our colleges and sixth forms to ensure children continue to have access to education.”
Mandeep Gill, Principal of New Vic College said: “We have been extremely happy to welcome the students and staff of local schools into NewVIc for classes and activities this week.
“This has been a real catalyst to bring the schools and colleges together. We all want the best for the young people of Newham and we are very committed to continuing to work together to build even stronger relationships between us.”
A spokesman for the British Arachnological Society said: “The bite of the False Widow is of minor medical significance, comparable to common insect bites and stings.
“The distribution and abundance of the spider in the community around the school should be taken into account.
“It is likely that the spider is present in urban and suburban southeast England in all suitable habitats.”
One mother, who did not want to be named and who lives by Star Lane described the situation as “horrendous”.
She added: “It is absolutely awful. I work full time, so it has made life a nightmare as I’ve suddenly got to find child care. And the thought of the spiders being so near is terrifying!”
Another young mother, who also did not want to be named and lives by Godwin Junior school, called on Newham Counil to do more.
She said: “The thought of these spiders makes me feel queasy. I don’t think the council is doing enough to inform local residents of what is going on.
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“We are having to be very vigilante with looking out for them. The council should share information with us. Locals are understandably very concerned.”
But not all residents The Sun spoke to were concerned.
One mum-of-three dismissed fears as “a storm in a tea cup.”
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