MOST recent false widow spider sightings reported in East Lancashire were harmless house spiders, it was found.

Several residents have claimed to have found the arachnid in their homes and gardens.

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust has received a number of calls about them.

The trust said that, out of 40 calls it received about false widow spiders, most were harmless orb spiders.

Project manager Mark Champion said: “False widows generally keep themselves to themselves but I personally would not be keen to live in the same house as them. They can definitely give you a nasty bite.

“If you do find one, then take great care in removing it by guiding it into a glass and putting it outside.

“But if you are too frightened to do this or you have no other choice, just use fly spray to kill them.

“However I don’t want people wiping out every spider in their house because of these invasive spiders. Every other spider in this country serves a purpose in reducing insect pests and should be respected and dealt with carefully by moving them to a safe place.”

Brenda Kean, of Lingmoor Drive, Burnley, said she found one of the spiders while gardening.

She said: “It has a large body on it, and it has a white skull shape on its back. My husband got a can of de-icer and sprayed it.”

And Luqman Sange, from Beardwood, Blackburn, found a spider near his front door. He said: “I splattered it. We have two babies so we weren’t taking any chances.

“We are keeping the windows shut now.”

Gemma Ratcliffe, pest control worker at Pendle Council, said: “We have just under 700 species of spider in the UK and a number of them have similar markings to the false widow, but none of them are dangerous.

“Where people have been bitten it has been compared to a bee or wasp sting.

“In rare cases, as with bee or wasp stings, a person may have a severe reaction. But nobody has ever died from a suspected spider bite in the UK.”