Although they are beneficial to the environment, Redback bites occur frequently to humans, particularly over the summer months. However, since Redback spiders rarely leave their webs, humans are not likely to be bitten unless the web is disturbed. More than 250 cases receive antivenom each year, with several milder bites probably going unreported. Only the female bite is dangerous.
Common early symptoms are pain (which can become severe), sweating (including local sweating at bite site), muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting. Antivenom is available. No deaths have occurred since its introduction.
Apply an ice pack to the bitten area to relieve pain. Do not apply a pressure bandage (venom movement is slow and pressure worsens pain). Collect the spider for positive identification. Seek medical attention.
Get to know the Daddy-long-legs Spider Pholcus phalangioides
The male spiders reach the reproduction age in one year and usually die after mating, the female can live for about 3 years.
Daddy long-legs spiders’ cam breed throughout the year.
Female lays about 20 to 30 eggs, which are clumped together with a few strands of silk. The mother then carries this clumped mass of eggs in between her jaw.
The eggs are attached to the web. It takes about 2 – 3 weeks for the eggs to hatch, and the young spiderlings are also carried by their mother in between her jaw. The spiderlings have to go through a series of molts, during which they shed their skin, after several moltings, they finally reach adulthood. They leave their mother when they master the skill of catching preys.
The Daddy-long-legs spider is found throughout Australia. It is a cosmopolitan species that originates from Europe and was introduced accidently into Australia.
Daddy-long-legs spiders are found in most urban areas, in particular houses. They make a thin, tangled web in sheltered positions were they are unlikely to be disturbed, such as under furniture, behind doors, in the corner of the ceilings, in sheds, in garages and under decks. Its successful use of these human-made structures has made it one of the most common spiders in Australia.
If the Daddy-long-legs Spider is disturbed in the web it responds by setting up a very fast, spinning motion, becoming a blur to anyone watching.
There are many species of Wolf Spider, ranging in size. Their body colours are typically dull, with most having variegated patterns in brown and yellow, grey, black and white; some inland species are a bright salmon pink below.
Often the patterns include distinguished lines on the front of the body and scroll-like patterns on the abdomen.
The spider’s underside is light grey, cream or black, sometimes salmon pink, often with black or white markings.
Wolf spiders have eight eyes in three rows (4,2,2), with the four smaller eyes in front and the four largest arranged in a square on top of the head.
Two of the commonest Australian species are Lycosa godeffroyi and Lycosa leuckartii.
The male wolf spider attracts the female by waving its pedipalps (are the two appendages on the front of a spider’s head) and front legs in the air. As long as these signals are carried out correctly, the female does not regard the male as being the next potential meal.
After mating, the female produces a silk mat into which she deposits around 100 eggs. The silk is then rolled into a protective ball which she then attaches to her abdomen and proceeds to carry it around with her until the eggs hatch.
After hatching, the babies crawl onto the mother’s back and remain there until their fat reserves have been used up and they need to start finding their own food. This process may take several months.
Male wolf spiders probably don’t live more than a year, but females of some species can live for several years.
Wolf Spiders are found throughout Australia. They are strong, agile hunters that live on the ground in leaf litter or burrows. They are often found in lawns and gardens.
Most Wolf spiders are wanderers but some build burrows, either open or with a trapdoor, while others may make temporary retreats in vegetation.
According to the Queensland Museum, two Wolf spider species are known to be predators of cane toads. Lycosa lapidosa will take small toads and frogs while L. obscuroides has been noted to biting and killing a large toad within one hour.
If bitten by a Wolf spider, symptoms of a bite are usually minor, restricted to local pain or itchiness. Less commonly, symptoms can include swelling, prolonged pain, dizziness, rapid pulse and nausea.
Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
Get to know the White-tailed Spider Lampona cylindrata
White-tailed Spider bites can cause initial burning pain followed by swelling and itchiness at the bitten area. Occasionally, there are unconfirmed reports of weals, blistering or local ulceration.
A debate continues about the involvement of White-tailed Spider bite in cases of severe ulcerative skin lesions seen in patients diagnosed as probable spider bite victims. Typically, in such cases no direct evidence of spider bite is available. The available evidence suggests that skin ulceration is not a common outcome of White-tailed Spider bite.
If systems persist or worsen, seek medical attention.
Huntsman spiders are large, long-legged hairy spiders.
They are mostly grey to brown, sometimes with banded legs.
Many huntsman spiders, have rather flattened bodies adapted for living in narrow spaces under loose bark or rock crevices. This is aided by their legs, instead of bending vertically in relation to the body, the joints are twisted so that they spread out forwards and laterally in a crab-like fashion (‘giant crab spiders’).
Body lengths in females is 2 cm and the male is 1.6 cm; Leg span is up to 15 cm.
The female Huntsman produces a flat, oval egg sac of white papery silk, and lays up to 200 eggs. She then places it under bark or a rock, and stands guard over it, without eating, for about 3 weeks. During this period, the female can be quite aggressive and will rear up in a defensive display if provoked. Some species will even carry their egg sac under their bodies while moving about. Incubation periods vary and are probably influenced by climatic conditions.
The mother stays with the spiderlings for several weeks. Young Huntsman spiders are pale. They undergo several moults while still with their mother, hardening to a darker brown, and eventually separating.
Huntsman spiders, like all spiders, moult in order to grow and often their old skin may be mistaken for the original spider when seen suspended on bark or in the house.
The lifespan of most Huntsman species is about 2 years or more.
The bite of Huntsman Spiders is of low risk (nontoxic) to humans. They are a non-aggressive, however, a large individual can give a painful bite. Beware in summer when the female Huntsman Spider is guarding her egg sacs or young.
Get to know the Sydney Funnel-web Spider Atrax robustus
Probably the most notorious of all spiders, Sydney Funnel-webs have a frightening reputation. Most of this is warranted, but some is exaggerated.
Males reach sexual maturity at four years of age, females are a year later.
Males leave their burrows and wander (roam) over summer and autumn to find females to mate with.
When the weather conditions are suitable, i.e. after heavy rain when the ground is soaked and the air is humid, the mature male starts wandering in search of a mate.
Females spend almost their whole life in their burrows and await the arrival of a potential suitor.
The male then takes his life in his hands by attracting the female out of her burrow and soothing her to allow him to mate rather than becoming her next meal!
The female produces an egg-sack containing a hundred or so eggs and stores it in her burrow until the spiderlings hatch.
Males usually die 6-8 months after reaching maturity, while females may continue to breed for several more years.
The Sydney Funnel-web Spider are found in New South Wales, from Newcastle to Nowra and west to Lithgow.
They especially favour the forested highland areas surrounding the lower, more open country of the central Cumberland Basin. This includes the Hornsby Plateau to the north, the foothills of the Blue Mountains to the west, and the Woronora Plateau to the south.
Funnel-web sightings are low in much of central-western Sydney, and also the sandy coastal parts of the eastern suburbs and the Botany Bay area.
Funnel-webs burrow in sheltered areas, such as under logs and rocks where they can find cool and humid climate. Funnel-webs charge out of their burrow when potential prey, such as beetles, cockroaches, small lizards or snails, walk across the silken trip-lines that the spider has placed around the outside of its burrow. They then return to their burrow to eat their meal.
Good – The Sydney Funnel-web spider, although very dangerous to human beings, are beneficial to the environment as they control the numbers of other pest insects, such as cockroaches, earwigs and millipedes.
Funnel-web bites are dangerous and first aid should be given immediately using the pressure bandage/immobilisation technique (same as a snake bite) and the victim taken to hospital and given antivenom if necessary. The venom has a neurotoxin component that attacks the human nervous system and, in the worst cases, can result in death. However, there have been no fatalities since the introduction of antivenom.