Minister takes steps against Black Widow

Flemish Environment Minister Joke Schauvliege (Christian democrat) is informing port authorities and doctors about the dangers of the black widow. The very poisonous spider is starting to thrive in Belgium. The minister met with public health experts and says that a plan of action has been prepared to tackle the problem.
The Black Widow, a very poisonous kind of spider, is becoming more common here in Belgium.
ARABEL, the Belgian Arachnology Society, called attention to this fact because a bite from the Black Widow can be deadly.

This is not the first time that specialists have alerted the authorities regarding the black widow, previously thought to have entered Belgium through the ports.

The first known black widow sighting in Belgium was in 1967. During the mid and late 1980s also some black widows were sighted in Ghent ( thought to have entered through the port).

Old-timers are good hiding places

Recently, sightings of the American black widow were reported in Antwerp. The Antwerp Zoo reported that the black widow had been seen in the zoo. Investigation traced the presumed arrival of the spider. They probably came to the continent in old-timer cars. The spiders sometimes hide under the hood or in the wheel housing of old-timers.  When they are shipped from the United States to Europe some of them survive.

Belgium has a flourishing old-timers' market and many old-timers from the United States come into the country- through the ports, but also via other countries.

Keep a supply of antidote to the poison of the black widow

The chance that the spiders will adapt themselves to the Belgian climate and stay here is real, say the experts of the Belgian Arachnology Society. The black widow adapts very easily. They can survive in both warm and cold climates and they can live long without food. Further, they are fairly resistant to chemical treatments.

ARABEL is concerned about the situation and raised the alarm, contacting Minister Schauvliege (photo).  The Arachnology Society recommends that the minister keep a stock of an antidote to the poison of the black widow.

The black widow is about 4-5 centimetres big. It is not an aggressive spider but its bite is lethal in 5 percent of the cases. Most fatalities occur when the victim is very young, elderly, or if the person suffers from heart troubles.

An antidote can be administered up to four days after the bite.
Arachnology is the scientific study of spiders. Those who study spiders are arachnologists.