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Steatoda nobilis (Araneae: Theridiidae) in South America: a new alien species for Chile

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Abstract

The arrival and establishment of the spider Steatoda nobilis (Thorell) (Araneae: Theridiidae) in Chile is reported. This record is the first for this alien species in the Southern Hemisphere. A brief diagnosis to recognise the species is provided and the possible ways of entry of this spider to Chile are discussed.

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... In Maine, USA, the European alien spider Linyphia triangularis was shown to be displacing the native spider Frontinella communis, of which one of the mechanisms identified was web invasion [9]. Other species currently recognised for expanding their range globally include Uloborus plumipes [10,11], Latrodectus geometricus [12], Argiope bruennichi [13], Cheiracanthium punctorium [14], Latrodectus hasselti [15] and Zoropsis spinimata [16][17][18]. ...
... Originally described from the Macaronesian archipelagos [28], S. nobilis was first documented outside of its supposed native range in Britain in 1879, but its distribution was limited to a handful of port cities until the 1990's [29] at which point reports increased throughout the southern half of England, and from the 2000s onward, northern England, Wales and Scotland [29][30][31]. Throughout the late 1990's and the first decade of the 21st century, S. nobilis expanded its range to Ireland and across continental Europe, East Asia, and the Americas [12,[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]. Predictive modelling suggests that S. nobilis has the potential to become the world's most invasive species of spiders [30]. ...
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Venom compositions include complex mixtures of toxic proteins that evolved to immobi-lize/dissuade organisms by disrupting biological functions. Venom production is metabolically expensive , and parsimonious use is expected, as suggested by the venom optimisation hypothesis. The decision-making capacity to regulate venom usage has never been demonstrated for the globally invasive Noble false widow Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) (Theridiidae). Here, we investigated variations of venom quantities available in a wild population of S. nobilis and prey choice depending on venom availability. To partially determine their competitiveness, we compared their attack rate success, median effective dose (ED50) and lethal dose (LD50), with four sympatric synanthropic species: the lace webbed spider Amaurobius similis, the giant house spider Eratigena atrica, the missing sector orb-weaver Zygiella x-notata, and the cellar spider Pholcus phalangioides. We show that S. no-bilis regulates its venom usage based on availability, and its venom is up to 230-fold (0.56 mg/kg) more potent than native spiders. The high potency of S. nobilis venom and its ability to optimize its usage make this species highly competitive against native European spiders sharing the same habitats. Key Contribution: This study highlights the venom potency of the globally invasive spider Steatoda nobilis against common synanthropic north European spiders and demonstrates the ability of S. no-bilis to adapt its predatory behaviour depending on the amount of venom available in its venom apparatus.
... The Noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis originates from the Macaronesian archipelago and has recently expanded its range throughout Europe including Ireland and Great Britain [1][2][3][4][5], Western Asia (Turkey and Iran) [6,7], North America [8,9] and South America [1,[10][11][12][13][14]. In contrast to the forest habitat of Madeira [15], outside of its native range S. nobilis establishes in synanthropic habitats where close contact with humans is unavoidable [1,2,4]. ...
... All symptoms had completely resolved 72 h after the bite. 14 7-year-old male in Cornwall, Great Britain Immediately after the bite occurred, the spider was captured, photographed, and the specimen ...
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Context In recent years, the Noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) has expanded its range globally and may represent a potential threat to native ecosystems and public health. Increasing numbers in synanthropic habitats have led to more human encounters and envenomations. Steatoda nobilis bites were previously classed as medically significant with similarities to bites from true black widows of the genus Latrodectus but deemed milder in onset, with symptoms generally ranging from mild to moderate. Case details In this manuscript we present 16 new cases of S. nobilis envenomations bringing the total number of confirmed cases reported in the literature to 24. We report new symptoms and provide discussion on the contributing factors to pathology following bites by S. nobilis. Discussion We report a range of pathologies including necrosis, Latrodectus-like envenomation symptoms that include debilitating pain, tremors, fatigue, nausea, hypotension, and vectored bacterial infections including cellulitis and dermatitis. Symptoms ranged from mild to severe, requiring hospitalisation in some cases.
... The noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis originates from the Macaronesian archipelagos and has recently colonized parts of Europe, including Ireland and Great Britain (Bauer et al., 2019;Dugon et al., 2017;Dunbar, Schulte, et al., 2018;Hambler, 2019;Snazell & Jones, 1993), Western Asia (Türkeş & Mergen, 2007;Zamani et al., 2015), North America (Vetter et al., 2015;Vetter & Rust, 2012), and South America (Bauer et al., 2019;Faúndez et al., 2018;Faúndez et al., 2020;Faúndez & Téllez, 2016;Porras-Villamil et al., 2020;Taucare-Ríos et al., 2016). The species is notable for its potential medical importance (Dunbar, Afoullouss, et al., 2018;Dunbar et al., 2021;Dunbar, Khan, et al., 2020;Warrell et al., 1991). ...
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The noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis continues to expand its range globally with possible implications for public health and native species. Of the European Union list of 66 species of invasive plants and animals, none are spiders. S. nobilis is invasive around the world, but its impact on native species has not been fully assessed. Here, we report on the predation of a protected species of pipistrelle bat by S. nobilis in Britain. To our knowledge, this is the first recorded case of a Theridiidae spider preying on a bat globally, the first case of a Theridiidae spider preying on a vertebrate in Britain, and the first global case of a Steatoda preying on a mammal.
... El género cosmopolita Steatoda Sundevall, 1833 es uno de los géneros más comunes en Theridiidae. Este género incluye a 120 especies reconocidas, distribuidas alrededor del mundo, incluyendo muchas especies cosmopolitas que se encuentran junto a poblaciones humanas (Taucare-Ríos et al. 2016). En Chile, estas arañas que son llamadas falsas viudas incluye a S. nobilis (Thorell, 1875) ( Fig. 3 A y B) distribuida entre las regiones de Coquimbo y Los Lagos, S. grossa (C. ...
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Generalidades de Steatoda en Chile
... S. nobilis is now regarded as potentially being one of the world's most invasive species of spiders [8]. This species originates from the Macaronesian archipelago [12] and has established populations across Western Europe including Ireland and Great Britain [8,[12][13][14][15], through Western Asia (Turkey and Iran) [16,17], and North and South America [10,[18][19][20]. S. nobilis has an exceptional longevity (up to five years) [21], a fast reproductive rate, is cold tolerant with year-round activity [12], and has a fast-acting venom that allows it to subdue a broad range of invertebrate and even vertebrate In Europe and South America, Steatoda nobilis has been involved in envenomations [9][10][11] commonly resulting in prolonged, moderate to intense pain, swelling and erythema. ...
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The noble false widow spider Steatoda nobilis originates from the Macaronesian archipelago and has expanded its range globally. Outside of its natural range, it may have a negative impact on native wildlife, and in temperate regions it lives in synanthropic environments where it frequently encounters humans, subsequently leading to envenomations. S. nobilis is the only medically significant spider in Ireland and the UK, and envenomations have resulted in local and systemic neurotoxic symptoms similar to true black widows (genus Latrodectus). S. nobilis is a sister group to Latrodectus which possesses the highly potent neurotoxins called α-latrotoxins that can induce neuromuscular paralysis and is responsible for human fatalities. However, and despite this close relationship, the venom composition of S. nobilis has never been investigated. In this context, a combination of transcriptomic and proteomic cutting-edge approaches has been used to deeply characterise S. nobilis venom. Mining of transcriptome data for the peptides identified by proteomics revealed 240 annotated sequences, of which 118 are related to toxins, 37 as enzymes, 43 as proteins involved in various biological functions, and 42 proteins without any identified function to date. Among the toxins, the most represented in numbers are α-latrotoxins (61), δ-latroinsectotoxins (44) and latrodectins (6), all of which were first characterised from black widow venoms. Transcriptomics alone provided a similar representation to proteomics, thus demonstrating that our approach is highly sensitive and accurate. More precisely, a relative quantification approach revealed that latrodectins are the most concentrated toxin (28%), followed by α-latrotoxins (11%), δ-latroinsectotoxins (11%) and α-latrocrustotoxins (11%). Approximately two-thirds of the venom is composed of Latrodectus-like toxins. Such toxins are highly potent towards the nervous system of vertebrates and likely responsible for the array of symptoms occurring after envenomation by black widows and false widows. Thus, caution should be taken in dismissing S. nobilis as harmless. This work paves the way towards a better understanding of the competitiveness of S. nobilis and its potential medical importance. Key Contribution: The study describes the first characterisation of the venom composition from the genus Steatoda using transcriptomics and proteomics, revealing the presence of a large quantity of Latrodectus-like toxins most likely to be key to envenomations of medical importance.
... Although alien populations of S. nobilis are known today from England, Ireland, several parts of the Mediterranean area, California, and Chile (Snazell and Jones 1993;Vetter et al. 2015;Taucare-Ríos et al. 2016;Dugon et al. 2017), no established population has ever been reported from Germany or other Central European countries. In the Mediterranean area and, e.g., California, nearly all records of S. nobilis are located in low altitudes, often near the coast (Kulczycki et al. 2012;Vetter et al. 2015;Morano et al. 2018), while the species is known to occur in natural habitats at altitudes up to 3200 m in their native range on Tenerife (Schmidt 1968). ...
Article
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The Noble False Widow, Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) (Araneae, Theridiidae), is, due to its relatively large size and potential medical importance, one of the most notable invasive spider species worldwide. Probably originating from the Canary Islands and Madeira, the species is well established in Western Europe and large parts of the Mediterranean area and has spread recently into California and South America, while Central European populations were not known until 2011. We report on long-time observations that reveal that at least two flourishing populations in Germany (Cologne) have been present for over five years, while in Ecuador one population has been observed between 2014 and 2018 and several other records were made in other parts of the country. Data obtained from the British Spider Recording Scheme demonstrate that the species moved significantly northwards since the report of the first populations in the very South of England, after several decades of relative stasis. The sudden northward expansion highly correlates with a massive rise in press coverage of the species. In the Americas, S.nobilis is currently known from four countries (USA, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia), and available DNA barcoding data obtained for specimens from this area suggest that multiple introductions occurred within each country. Using ecological niche modeling, we identified suitable climate regions for the species and discuss possible reasons for its current spread. We propose that seaside cities and villages with a temperate oceanic or Mediterranean climate are especially favourable potential habitats for S.nobilis and will face the highest colonization pressure in the future, while tropical upland regions with temperate climates are also vulnerable to invasion by S.nobilis .
... Another example of a spider that does not avoid H. axyridis as a prey is Steatoda nobilis (Thorell) (Theridiidae). This species, native to the Canary Islands and Madeira and invasive in Europe and North America, is since 2015 established in southern Chile (Taucare-Ríos et al. 2016) and has been found as a relatively frequent predator of H. axyridis soon after establishment. While numbers of H. axyridis in Concepción (Chile) rapidly increased in 2015, ladybirds were found trapped in webs of S. nobilis and the spiders were observed to prey on H. axyridis. ...
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The harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) has rapidly spread in several continents over the past 30 years and is considered an invasive alien species. The success of H. axyridis as an invader is often attributed to weak control by natural enemies. In this paper, we provide an overview of current knowledge on predators and parasitoids of H. axyridis. The common feature of predators and parasitoids is that they directly kill exploited organisms. Currently available data show that H. axyridis, displaying a variety of chemical, mechanical, and microbiological anti-predator defenses, is usually avoided by predators. However, some birds and invertebrates can eat this ladybird without harmful consequences. The primary defenses of H. axyridis against parasitoids include immune response and physiological and nutritional unsuitability for parasitoid development. These defenses are probably relatively efficient against most ladybird parasitoids, but not against flies of the genus Phalacrotophora. The latter are idiobiont parasitoids and hence can evade the host’s immune response. Indeed, rates of parasitism of H. axyridis by Phalacrotophora in the Palaearctic region (both in the native range in Asia and in Europe) are relatively high. While strong evidence for enemy release on the invasive populations of H. axyridis is lacking, several cases of parasitoid acquisition have been recorded in Europe, North America, and South America. We conclude that enemy release cannot be excluded as a possible mechanism contributing to the spread and increase of H. axyridis in the early stages of invasion, but adaptation of parasitoids may lead to novel associations which might offset previous effects of enemy release. However, further work is required to elucidate the population-level effects of such interactions.
... En relación al tema él dice lo siguiente "les puedo aguar la noticia… no tiene nada de nueva… yo no sé por qué el Canadian Entomologist en la publicación dice que es nueva, aparentemente es porque finalmente la clasificaron bien, pero es una araña que está en Chile hace 40 años fácil… nosotros siempre la hemos conocido como falsa viuda negra, es una araña que efectivamente tiene un veneno que tiene la potencialidad de incluso llegar a matar a una persona". En líneas anteriores hay una serie de conceptos errados, donde se ha malinterpretado la literatura científica, ya que en primer lugar no es la revista The Canadian Entomologist como entidad quien versa sobre primer registro de S. nobilis en Chile, sino que son los autores Taucare-Ríos et al., (2016), quienes la reportan en un artículo preparado con la correspondiente rigurosidad científica, sometido a evaluación por pares y examinando la genitalia, forma más adecuada para la correcta identificación de especies en este grupo. En este artículo, también se menciona que existe la certeza de que este arácnido ha estado presente en Chile desde al menos tres años, sin que exista información más allá de este periodo. ...
... Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) es una especie invasiva, originaria de Canarias y Madeira, que se ha expandido ampliamente por Europa, llegando a Estados Unidos y más recientemente a Chile (Taucare-Ríos et al., 2016). El objetivo de esta contribución es describir el primer caso de una mordedura de S. nobilis en Chile. ...
Article
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First record of a Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) (Arachnida: Araneae: Theridiidae) bite from Chile. The first case of biting humans is described for the invasive combfoot spider Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) (Arachnida: Araneae: Theridiidae) in Chile. The case occurred in the Araucania Region and was perpetrated by a male specimen to an adult male, 37 years old, while he was sleeping. The bite produced local pain, muscular constrictions and redness that lasted for about two hours before starting to disappear gradually. The case from Chile is similar to other steatodism cases known, but slightly less severe. This may be explained because the biting specimen was a male, which usually are less severe biters.
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South America is the fourth largest continent on the planet; its birds, mammals, and amphibian's biodiversity is relatively well known, but no outright assessment of the continent spider (Araneae) fauna has been done to date. From January 2019 to August 2020, a recompilation of all spider species registered to occur in South America was conducted based on the data available from the World Spider Catalog [2020. Version 18.5. Natural History Museum Bern. [cited Jan 2019–Aug 2020]]. The assessment revealed that the South American spider fauna comprises 83 families, 1018 genera, and 8302 species, representing 17% of the world spider fauna biodiversity; however, 94% of the spider-specific biodiversity is found nowhere else on earth. A total of 78 species have been introduced in South America, while 30 species were exported from the South American continent to other parts of the world. For all South American families, an overview of the current knowledge is presented: distribution, endemism, taxonomical inconsistency, and problems are discussed. The complete checklist of spiders occurring in SA with distribution given by countries and the complete list of introduced and exported species with details of their native region and current known distribution are presented.
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The false widow spider Steatoda nobilis is associated with bites which develop bacterial infections that are sometimes unresponsive to antibiotics. These could be secondary infections derived from opportunistic bacteria on the skin or infections directly vectored by the spider. In this study, we investigated whether it is plausible for S. nobilis and other synanthropic European spiders to vector bacteria during a bite, by seeking to identify bacteria with pathogenic potential on the spiders. 11 genera of bacteria were identified through 16S rRNA sequencing from the body surfaces and chelicerae of S. nobilis, and two native spiders: Amaurobius similis and Eratigena atrica. Out of 22 bacterial species isolated from S. nobilis, 12 were related to human pathogenicity among which Staphylococcus epidermidis, Kluyvera intermedia, Rothia mucilaginosa and Pseudomonas putida are recognized as class 2 pathogens. The isolates varied in their antibiotic susceptibility: Pseudomonas putida, Staphylococcus capitis and Staphylococcus edaphicus showed the highest extent of resistance, to three antibiotics in total. On the other hand, all bacteria recovered from S. nobilis were susceptible to ciprofloxacin. Our study demonstrates that S. nobilis does carry opportunistic pathogenic bacteria on its body surfaces and chelicerae. Therefore, some post-bite infections could be the result of vector-borne bacterial zoonoses that may be antibiotic resistant.
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The noble false widow Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875) has established thriving populations in urban centres throughout England and Wales since it was accidentally imported from the Canary Islands and Madeira to Britain over a century ago. In recent years, Steatoda nobilis has colonised parts of Western Europe, California, Chile and the Middle East. In Ireland, Steatoda nobilis was first recorded in 1999 from a single location in Co Wicklow. The present study examines the current range and main habitats of Steatoda nobilis in Ireland and assesses its potential as an invasive species by documenting its reproductive rate. Additionally, we present photographic material illustrating the intraspecific phenotypic variations exhibited by Steatoda nobilis to assist in correct identification of this species by the public. Our data shows that Steatoda nobilis is an extremely prolific, resilient species with distinct synanthropic affinities. This species currently occurs in at least sixteen Irish counties with the largest populations observed in the greater Dublin area, where it has become widespread in buildings and on street furniture. Steatoda nobilis seems to be currently absent from natural, undisturbed habitats such as woodlands, bogs and grassland. We suggest that due to its comparatively fast reproductive rate, long life span and year-round activity, Steatoda nobilis might have a detrimental impact on native urban-dwelling spiders.
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Summary In this work we present new records of Steatoda nobilis (Thorell, 1875), a species originally from Madeira and the Canary Islands, for the Italian mainland and Sardinia. We discuss local ecology and ethology and provide brief genital and morphological descriptions of both sexes.
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The European spider Steatoda bipunctata has apparently been introduced into North America through human transport. The earliest American collections were made in Nova Scotia in 1913. Until about 1933, specimens were known only on the coast of the Atlantic provinces, Maine, and along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, but they are now found widely in the Atlantic Provinces, northernmost New England, and southern Québec and Ontario. Habitats include buildings, bridges, piles of lumber and firewood, and crevices on tree trunks or among rocks. Evidence indicates that S. bipunctata, which closely resembles the native S. borealis in size, colour, microhabitat, diel activity, prey selection and utilization, life history, and sexual behaviour, can displace S. borealis. Displacement is, however, only partial, as S. borealis persists in forest habitats, where human influence is minimal. Laboratory tests on reproductive potential and interspecific aggression failed to demonstrate the method by which displacement takes place.
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D. A. Warrell, J. Shaheen, P. D. Hillyard and D. Jones. Neurotoxic envenoming by an immigrant spider (Steatoda nobilis) in southern England. Toxicon 29, 1263-1265, 1991.-A young woman was bitten on the shoulder by a female Steatoda nobilis spider, in Worthing on the south coast of England. She noticed intense radiating pain, local sweating (indicating parasympathetic stimulation) and feverishness. This immigrant species from the Canary Islands has established itself along the south coast of England in recent years. Like the related Mediterranean species S. paykulliana, S. nobilis may be of medical importance and deserves further study.
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The family Theridiidae (comb-footed spiders) contains the well-known and medically important widow spider group (Latrodectus spp.). Little is known about the effects of envenoming by other common members of this family. The objective of this study was to determine the clinical effects of bites by common theridiid spiders of the genera Steatoda and Achaearanea. This was a prospective cohort study of calls to Australian poison information centers and presentations to emergency departments. Twenty-eight persons with a definite bite by a spider of the family Theridiidae, excluding Latrodectus spp., were included where the spider was immediately collected and expertly identified from February 1999 to April 2002. There were 23 bites by Steatoda spp. and five bites by Achaearanea spp. Steatoda bites occurred across Australia, throughout the year, and the majority during waking hours. Seventy-eight percent of bites occurred indoors and 48% while dressing indoors. Pain was universal and was severe in six (26%). Increasing pain in the first hour occurred in 30%, and the median duration of pain was 6 hr (interquartile range: 1-12 hr). Local or regional diaphoresis did not occur. Systemic effects occurred in 30% and included nausea, headache, lethargy, and malaise. The majority received no treatment: seven patients presented to a hospital (two patients received opiates for analgesia) and 1 patient inadvertently received intravenous redback spider (RBS) antivenom because the spider was initially misidentified as a RBS (Latrodectus). The pain and symptoms responded over 1 hr following antivenom administration. Bites by Achaeranea spp. caused moderate to severe persistent pain, but no systemic effects. Steatoda spp. bites or "steatodism" may cause prolonged pain and systemic effects similar to Latrodectus bites, but less severe. In severe cases, the clinical effects were almost indistinguishable from Latrodectus, except diaphoresis was absent, and the spiders were often mistaken for Latrodectus. Intravenous RBS antivenom appears to be an effective treatment in isolated severe cases, consistent with in vitro work. Achaearanea bites caused pain similar to Latrodectus bites.
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