Ron Ockwell expected to come across a spider or two while rummaging around the shed in his back garden.

But he did not expect to find what he believes to be a member of the infamous Black Widow family.

Mr Ockwell spotted the arachnid in his tool box in the garden shed of his home in Bognor and became suspicious when he saw the little red spots on its back.

A quick check on the internet confirmed his fears - the spider looked exactly like a Black Widow, a species more commonly found in North America or Australia.

The insect is now being examined by experts at Birmingham University, although they have yet to confirm what type of Black Widow it is or whether it is venomous.

Mr Ockwell said: "I thought I recognised it as poisonous."

He rang pest control staff at Arun District Council only to be told he would have to wait two weeks before they could fumigate his shed as one of their workers was on holiday.

Mr Ockwell complained to their manager and the shed was immediately treated.

He said: "The eggs of a Black Widow only take between two weeks and a month to hatch. I have an eight-year-old daughter and I was very concerned for her safety."

Now Mr Ockwell has found what he believes may be the corpse of another Black Widow, live youngsters and an egg sac.

He said: "I really don't want people to panic. But they should be aware and know what to look out for."

Paul Murphy, deputy environmental officer at Arun District Council, said: "There is still some doubt as to whether this actually was a deadly Black Widow. We are waiting for further confirmation."

Peter Harvey, of the British Arachnological Society, said: "I am unconvinced the spider is a Black Widow. By far the most likely culprit is the 'false black widow', Steatoda grossa, a harmless spider found in homes and sheds, especially in south-western England."

This is the second sighting in less then a month. In early July, Sue Chesney, of Aldwick, was apparently bitten by a relative species of the Black Widow spider while she was gardening.