Eek! Couple in France in lockdown with huge, rare, spider

The spider is thought to be a Gibraltar or Spanish funnel-web spider, Latin name Macrothele calpeiana

8 November 2020
By Hannah Thompson

A couple in southeast France has launched a call for help after discovering they were in lockdown with a huge spider, which neither the mairie, fire brigade, police, nor animal group SPA say they are qualified to remove.

The couple in their thirties live in Grillon, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. On Thursday November 5, they discovered a big black spider between 8-10cm wide in the corridor leading to their laundry room.

The couple tried to kill it, but only managed to slow it down a little.

In search of help, they called the Mairie, fire brigade, police, animal welfare group la SPA, and the nearby crocodile zoo, but none of these authorities said they were qualified to remove the arachnid.

So far the couple has been offered a quote for removal of the spider of €1,000 from a private pest control company, but they say they cannot afford this. They are now seeking help via a public appeal.

They have managed to contain the spider in a plastic box but are afraid that it may have laid eggs elsewhere in the house, and are seeking expert help.

Michèle, one half of the couple, said: “My hair is still standing on end!”

 

What kind of spider is it?

The couple took a photo of the spider and set it to a vet, who confirmed that it was not a native spider to France. Yet the vet could not be sure of the spider’s potential danger level.

According to specialists that have seen the couple’s photo, who were contacted by news service France Bleu Vaucluse, the spider is a funnel-web spider, known as the Gibraltar or Spanish funnel-web spider, Latin name Macrothele calpeiana.

It is usually found in Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal and north-west Africa; although it has been reported in Lombardy and Venice, Italy; in Switzerland, Belgium, and of course, southern areas of France. It is known for its bright black colour and long “spinnerets” (the part of the spider than spins a web).

Its venom is not normally poisonous to humans.

The species is actually considered to be rare, and is protected in Europe. It is forbidden by law to kill the spider or destroy one of its distinctive “funnel”-shaped webs.

The spider should not be confused with the Mediterranean Black Widow spider - one of the continent’s most dangerous arachnids - which caused a severe case of blood poisoning for a man in the Pyrénées-Orientales in March this year.

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