A YOUNG dad collapsed in a Southampton toy store after he was bitten ten times by the UK’s most venomous spider.
Chris Galton, 31, was shopping with his family when he was overcome with poisonous bites from a fake widow spider which had crawled into his hoodie.
He initially felt a bee-like sting while browsing around a furniture store and took a couple of anti-histamine pills from a nearby pharmacy.
Then while Mr Galton, his wife and her parents, were looking around Toys R Us for a tricycle for their baby daughter Imogen's first birthday, the spider went on a second biting frenzy.
“I said ouch! I’ve been bitten again,” Mr Galton said.
He said he shook his clothes and the spider fell out on to the floor.
His father-in law sprang into action and trapped it in a container for baby Imogen's dummy.
“The next thing I knew I collapsed on the floor,” Mr Galton said. “I was feeling hot, queasy and light headed and was hurling and gagging.”
Mr Galton’s concerned wife Zoe, a nurse, kept him comfortable with the help of shop staff while an ambulance was called.
Paramedics gave him oxygen and he was kept in at Southampton General Hospital overnight in case he suffered an allergic reaction.
“I’ve been stung by wasps before. This was a like really a sharp pin prick and very painful,” said Mr Galton, who counted ten bite marks surrounded by red swelling.
“I’m just thankful it never jumped out and got onto my daughter,” he said.
Mr Galton said hospital staff identified the trapped spider, whose body was bigger than a 5p coin, as a fake widow – a group of spiders closely related to the potentially lethal black widow spider. It has now been sent for formal identification.
Only a handful of cases of bites from the fake widow are confirmed each year. It delivers enough poison to cause severe pain and inflammation.
Insect experts at the Natural History Museum said one particular variety, the Steatoda Nobilis, which arrived in Britain with a cargo of bananas from the Canary Islands over a century ago, had gained strongholds on the Hampshire and Dorset coast and was spreading.
Mr Galton said he suspected the spider dropped into his hoodie while he was getting in his car at home, in Banbury Avenue, Sholing and had crawled down his back.
Mr Galton praised staff at the Toys R Us store at WestQuay for rushing to his aid.
A spokesman for Toys R Us confirmed the incident, which happened on Saturday afternoon.
One store worker said: “It was a very scary big spider. I’ve never see one like it before.”
Insect exterminators at Wessex Pest Control Southampton said where as a cold winter would have previously killed off unwelcome visitors such as the fake widow, increasingly mild climates were helping them to spread and establish colonies.