By GARETH FINIGHAN
Killer: The female redback spider has distinctive markings on its abdomen - and packs a lethal bite
For almost 1,000 years, Britain has been able to defend itself against any wannabe-conqueror who fancied seizing the kingdom.
But after successfully seeing off the likes of Napoleon and Hitler, our shores have finally been breached by an army of lethal foreign invaders.
For a new survey shows that homes across Britain have become infested by killer spiders, biting ants and skin-crawling cockroaches shipped in from distant lands.
The survey of local authority pest control teams illustrates the wide variety of exotic pests now established in UK homes - and experts believe their numbers are increasing.
Among the most terrifying revelations are the numerous sightings of the redback spider - believed to be responsible for 14 fatalities in its native Australia. The pea-sized killer has been found in Scotland, Wales and the Midlands.
Vicious: The Argentine ant wipes out colonies of native ants once it arrives in the UK
Victims of the redback bite can suffer extreme pain and swelling, chest pains, fever and respiratory failure. Around 250 cases are reported in Australia each year, with victims needing to be treated with anti-venom.
It is believed the invaders are imported inadvertently in the luggage of returning holidaymakers, or in cargo shipments. A dozen redbacks recently emerged from a factory crate in Preston.
And although used to warmer climates, the insects can survive in the UK by finding refuge in centrally-heated homes.
Richard Moseley of the British Pest Control Association told the Sunday Telegraph: 'These insects move with trade and transport. As the world becomes theoretically a smaller place and people go on more unusual holidays and we bring in commodities from unusual places, the spread increases. These insects are on the move now.'
Whole armies of foreign ants are also being reported in record numbers, including the ferocious Argentine ant and the unpleasant smelling stink ant.
And the survey revealed that both Oriental and German cockroaches - which can spread dysentery tuberculosis and typhoid - are now gaining a foothold in the UK.
Monday, November 14, 2011
By GARETH FINIGHAN