SPIDERS, ants, wasps and other creepy crawlies are set to have a feast in Oxford this summer after perfect weather conditions for them this spring, a pest control firm has warned.
The mild winter, followed by rainfall and early spring sunshine, has provided ideal conditions for minibeasts in the city and elsewhere to thrive.
One man who has already suffered the impact is Ian Moon of Greater Leys, who was told a swelling the size of his fist on his leg was caused by a tiny spider.
He found the lump after mowing his lawn, but it was only when he went to see a GP at Leys Health Centre he was told the trouble was caused by a spider.
Unemployed Mr Moon had to go to the John Radcliffe Hospital to have his swelling lanced, drained and packed, and is now going back daily to have it treated.
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The 53-year-old, who lives in Long Ground with his partner and 11-year-old son, said: “When he saw the hole I think he almost passed out.
“I was just cutting the grass – I didn’t feel anything. I had a couple of beers in the evening, chilled out and went to bed, then I woke up with this big red lump on my leg.
“It was painful and now it’s just irritating, but I can’t scratch it.”
Mr Moon said he also heard that one of his neighbours had reported a similar swelling which doctors told him was a spider bite.
Several UK spiders can deliver a painful bite, but the most common culprit is the so-called false widow – Steatoda nobilis – the UK’s most venomous spider.
Oxford pest controller Tom Frost, founder of Pure Pest Management, warned that recent weather conditions had made for a pest control perfect storm this summer.
Mr Frost, of East Oxford, said: “We talk with other pest controllers and we are anticipating quite a big year.
“The biggest problem will be the wasps. We have had that bit of rain which increases the insect population, then when the sun comes the wasps feast off all the insects.”
But he warned: “The ones you really don’t want to be getting are pharoah ants, especially in the house.”
Originating in tropical countries and just half the size of common British ants, pharoahs can infest food and have been linked to food poisoning, dysentery and typhoid.
But the reason they are so notorious, Mr Frost said, is that when homeowners use standard ant poison to get rid of them, workers sent messages back to the colony to warn the others they are under attack, and the colony will split up into several colonies, making them even harder to eradicate.
Mr Frost said he has also recently been called to deal with myriad other pests in and around Oxford including carpet beetles, carpet moths and even bed bugs.
He said: “A few of the bigger spiders can bite but there aren’t many bigger spiders around in the spring.
“Normally it’s fine but occasionally you’ll get a bad reaction.”
In most people a bite causes a painful red swelling, although occasionally people experience more severe allergic reactions.