Laura Webb can see the funny side of having a surname like her’s and being absolutely terrified of spiders.
But the mother-of-two wasn’t laughing when an unwanted guest arrived unannounced in her Preston home last week bearing a striking resemblance to one of Britain’s most venomous species.
“I haven’t slept a wink for the past few nights thinking there are others in the house and they will bite the kids - or me,” said Laura, 30, who confesses she is almost paralysed with fear at the mere sight of any spider.
“It appeared just after I’d bought some bananas from the supermarket. When I looked it up it was a dead ringer for the false widow spider, a relative of the black widow. I’ve been petrified.”
Laura’s partner Lee, 35, wasn’t so squeamish and tried to grab the eight-legged invader as it sat on the kitchen unit at the house in Elm Grove, Ribbleton.
And the tension increased when the beast from the fruit bowl fought back.
So, accepting discretion was the better part of valour, Lee tipped a kettle of boiling water over it to end a tense stand-off.
“I wouldn’t go near the thing, but thankfully Lee isn’t bothered about stuff like that,” she said. “He wanted to get hold of it and chuck it out, but the nasty little thing actually had a go back at him.
“At that point I think he thought better of it and went for the kettle. That killed it instantly.
“But, where’s there one there is always the chance of more. And with our youngest being only a month old, I’ve been scared ever since that there could be a family of them lurking somewhere in the kitchen.”
At that point, with Laura still peering nervously around the kitchen door every time she needed to go in there, the Evening Post stepped in.
We took one very dead spider out of the jar where it had been since its demise a week earlier and photographed it next to a £1 coin.
We then sent the picture off to spiderman Peter Harvey of the British Arachnological Society for his expert view.
Within hours Peter, who is the national organiser for the society’s spider recording scheme, came back with a definitive identification.
“This appears to be a sodden Amaurobius spider, either Amaurobius similis, a common spider of walls, fences etc, on or near buildings or Amaurobius ferox, a local spider of gardens or habitats near buildings,” he told us. Both are harmless to humans. It is not a so-called false widow spider.”
When we passed the news on to Laura, her response was: “Phew! Thank heavens for that.
“Even though Lee killed it last week, I’ve still felt uncomfortable in the house. Now I hope I can get a good night’s sleep.”