False widow spider in 'sex-crazed frenzy' due to mating season bites gran making her leg blow up like 'massive balloon'

A FALSE widow spider in a “sex-crazed frenzy” during mating season bit a grandma and caused her leg to swell up like a “balloon”.

The creepy crawly sunk its fangs into Paula Smith, 52, making her leg to triple in size – and she thinks it was revenge for wrecking its web.

Hairdresser Paula had to go to A&E after the bite because she had blisters the size of 10p coins on her calf.

She had been walking her dog with husband Neil, 53, near her house when she felt the spider nip her leg.

Paula looked down to find the critter on her right calf before she knocked it away.

Three days later, after her leg had become swollen and blisters had appeared, she noticed red track marks streaking down her leg and decided to go to A&E.

Doctors confirmed she had been bitten by a false widow spider – whose bites produce necrosis of the flesh.

Most bites from the bugs result in symptoms similar to a bee or wasp sting.

Paula, from Chesterfield, Derbys, said: "The fact that they're looking for a mate at this time of year has sent them into a bit of a frenzy.

"A man in A&E said I could have walked through his web, he's made this most fantastic web to attract a mate, and I've walked through it.

"He was probably really upset by the fact I've done that and, in a sex-crazed frenzy, he's bitten me."

How to spot a false widow spider

  • The false widow is a medium-sized spider with a round, brown body and cream coloured markings
  • Its legs are a reddish-orange colour
  • Females range in size from 9.5 to 14mm while males are 7 to 11mm
  • The spider's body and legs will have a glossy appearance
  • The species closely resembles the black widow spider, aside from its colouring

Before heading to A&E, gran-of-five Paula said she rang 111 after her leg became swollen and solid to the touch.

Paula said: "My leg felt like someone was blowing it up, it got tighter and tighter as the night went on.

"By the time I got up the next morning it was like a massive balloon.

"My calf was rock hard so we decided I needed to get medical attention.

"We went to the local chemist and they gave me hydrocortisone cream, advised me to elevate my leg, take ibuprofen to take the swelling down, and take some antihistamines.


"Within 24 hours it had blistered, gone really red, the skin had started to break down and it started to look mottled all across my calf and down to my ankle and foot.

"I took myself up to the hospital under duress after some Facebook friends saw pictures of my leg red and inflamed and asked me to go.

"A lady at the hospital said she was glad I'd done that because it could have been so much worse."

Paula went to Chesterfield Royal Hospital on August 16 where doctors confirmed it was a spider bite.

Staff prescribed a five-day course of antibiotics and advised her to continue using hydrocortisone cream.

Paula said: "When I saw the blisters on my leg I thought 'oh my god they look disgusting'.

"They started off like a little pimple then just got bigger and bigger and filled up more.

"There were about five blisters, one quite big one about the size of a 10p piece, with a few smaller penny-sized ones dotted around it.

"Everything the chemist had advised was spot on.

"The doctor at the hospital said in the worst case scenario if it wasn't sorted immediately with antibiotics it can turn into sepsis.

"He said I'd done the best thing by going because it could have become so much worse."

Last month a roofer feared he would lose a leg after being bitten by a false widow spider.

Tony Mayne, 32, was called into hospital as his knee began oozing pus and his leg turned red and ballooned.

Paula is now urging people to get bites checked out, even if they believe it is nothing serious.

Paula said: "I would advise anyone bitten by a spider to go to a chemist and let someone look at it.

"No matter how small or insignificant you think something like this is, to seek medical attention.”

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