Couple terrorised by spiders and BOTH have been hospitalised by bites

Couple claim they’re terrorised by false widow spiders that have infested their workplace and both have been hospitalised with agonising bites despite calling in pest control three times

  • WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT 
  • Philip Oakley, 58, from Hastings, East Sussex, works in an old fruit warehouse 
  • Wife Olivia Yip, 38, was bitten twice and he needed treatment for bite last month
  • His finger was so swollen that he needed surgery to remove the infected tissue  

A husband and wife are being terrorised by false widow spiders that have infested their workplace – with both being hospitalised by bites despite fumigating three times.

Philip Oakley, 58, and Olivia Yip, 38, from Hastings, East Sussex, took on an old fruit and vegetable warehouse as a workshop for their lighting design and fashion work.

The couple soon noticed that it was crawling with false widow spiders, and in the five years they’ve owned the property they have been bitten three times.

The most recent was on April 19, when Philip was nipped on his middle finger, leaving him crying in pain.

Philip Oakley, 58, and wife are being terrorised by false widow spiders that have infested their workplace – with both being hospitalised by bites despite fumigating the place three times 

Philip was bitten on the middle finger on April 19 leaving him crying in pain and eventually needing surgery to remove infected tissue 

False widows are not deadly spiders and although they do have a venomous bite, it is not particularly potent (pictured: stock image)

Olivia first suffered ulcerated bites on her leg and waist that needed daily hospital dressing changes in 2018 and 2019, and took months to recover.

Philip has fumigated the property every year for the last three years in a bid to get rid of the critters, but they keep coming back.

He initially brushed his most recent bite off as a splinter, but his finger soon ballooned and started throbbing painfully.

He was referred to Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, where he underwent two surgeries to scoop out the infected tissue. 

Now recovering at home after a week-long stay, Philip declared he will not be ‘scared away’ by the spiders and vows to continue working there.

False widows are not the deadly spiders and although they do have a venomous bite, it is not particularly potent.

He explained: ‘We own an old fruit and vegetable warehouse that we use for work and it perhaps has false widow spiders that came over with bananas – that’s probably why we have a lot of the spiders in the building. 

Olivia Yip, 38, first suffered ulcerated bites on her leg and waist that needed daily hospital dressing changes in 2018 and 2019

Now recovering at home after a week-long stay in hospital, Philip declared he will not be ‘scared away’ by the spiders and vows to continue working there

‘They start as nothing. You don’t feel it, you just have what you think is a spot starting that you think you’re going to be able to squeeze and it doesn’t ever develop a head. 

‘It felt like a splinter, a little bit tender to the touch but nothing major, then it became inflamed and swelled up.

‘When it started on my finger I thought, “Oh my God here we go I’m in trouble with this”.’

Philip was then referred to hospital as the swelling and pain got worse, which eventually resulted in him having to have treatment.   

Philip has fumigated the property every year for the last three years in a bid to protect his wife from any further bites but they keep returning

In the five years the couple, from Hastings, East Sussex, have owned the old fruit and veg warehouse, they have been bitten three times, with Philip’s most recent one needing surgery  

‘I had to go to A&E at about midnight on a Sunday with excruciating pain, I think the swelling was so great it was making my knuckle dislocate.

ARE FALSE WIDOW SPIDERS DEADLY? 

The noble false widow spider was first recorded in the UK in the 1870s and was likely a stowaway on cargo ships from its native Madeira and Canary Islands. Since the 1980s the population of the species has grown – mostly in the southern counties, although it has spread northwards.

False widows are not deadly spiders although they do have a venomous bite. Usually the only symptom is pain at the site and are no more severe than a bee or wasp sting. The pain normally lasts between one and 12 hours, and rarely for more than 24 hours.

A minority of people who have been bitten have described worse symptoms, including throbbing pain, swelling and tingling in the fingers. The spiders are not usually aggressive to humans, and being bitten is rare.

Bites usually result from a defensive action, for example, being accidentally squashed. If you are bitten and the symptoms of the bite cause concern, medical advice should be sought. 

‘I was crying with pain and they gave me morphine and said I had to go to a specialist hospital for treatment.

‘It was all quite surprising really because I initially thought I was going to go to hospital and come home after an hour.’ 

Philip believes he was bitten on April 19 but it was only five days later that he went to A&E, unable to bear the pain in his finger.

The following day he said the pain was so excruciating it felt like his finger was ‘being dislocated from the swelling’ and he went back to A&E where he was given morphine. 

Philip said: ‘My finger suddenly got so swollen that it was like it couldn’t get any bigger. My finger was double the size it usually is, it was throbbing and it felt like my finger was being dislocated from the swelling.

‘On Saturday I couldn’t go to my GP so I went to A&E where they gave me some antibiotics and then the pain got worse and worse so I went back to hospital at midnight on Sunday.

‘I was crying with pain and they gave me two lots of morphine.’

Philip now does 30 minutes of physio a day in a bid to regain movement and grip in his right hand, and he hopes to be back at work next week. 

He said he’ll consider wearing gloves while in the workshop more often but urges anyone bitten by an insect to seek medical help straight away.

Philip said: ‘I would advise anyone to go on the NHS website to look up their symptoms and get them checked out.

‘I will definitely wear gloves a lot more in future and would advise others to as well, especially if you’re working in the garden or moving firewood.’

Fashion technician Olivia took months to recover from the bite which she got in the workshop that the couple use for their lighting design and fashion work

Philip said the bite ‘felt like a splinter’ and was ‘nothing major’ to begin with, but knew he was in trouble when it became inflamed and swelled up

Philip said that the false widow spiders may have come over with bananas when the building was used as a fruit and vegetable warehouse

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