Pioneer critter claims Peberholmen

A new spider species has been found on a man-made island between Denmark and Sweden. It may be poisonous American hobo spider

A new kind of spider has staked its claim on Denmark, or at least a small, man-made part of it. The species may be the poisonous American hobo spider, but scientists have not been able to identify it with certainty.

A Swedish researcher discovered the spider on Peberholmen, a small islet built in the middle of the Sound of Øresund, where the bridge between Denmark and Sweden descends into a tunnel.

The spider has not yet been given a Danish name, but is believed to be Tegenaria agrestis, commonly found in Europe but extremely rare this far north.

In the United States, a similar spider is known as the hobo spider, but Nikolaj Scharff, spider specialist at the Zoological Museum, told daily newspaper Politiken that nobody knew for certain if these were two different species of spiders or the same.

'No one knows for sure if this is the same spider as the hobo spider, but people in the United States have launched a DNA study. Once it's done we will know with certainty if this is the same spider,' he said.

Scharff said one of the main reasons why scientists were not sure whether the US and the European spiders were the same critter was that the US species is a poisonous house pest, which can cause tissue damage and wounds that take a long time to heal.

The overseas spider, however, is a free-range creature with no record of biting European humans.

'Of course, the fact that it hasn't bitten anyone can be explained by it being an outdoor spider that rarely comes into contact with humans, or that its bite isn't as poisonous as the other one's,' Scharff said. 'But we don't know yet, so there's no reason to be afraid.'

His guess is that the two spiders found so far in Denmark may have been transported up north with vehicles from abroad.

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