In Australia, there are approximately 2000 descripted spider species. Many spider populations have adapted and can live happily amongst humans in houses, sheds, wood piles, gardens etc.
Spiders have an exoskeleton (which they shed periodically to allow for growth) that is split into two main body parts, eight legs, eyes, fangs and silk spinning organs.
Most spiders live on insects and will keep to themselves, but occasionally can inflict painful and in some cases dangerous bites. Spider venom effects on humans may include: blood clotting, muscle and tissue breakdown, paralysis and cardio respiratory problems. Most bites consist of localised pain and swelling.
The Redback and Sydney Funnelweb spiders are the only two spiders that have caused deaths in Australia. Anti venom for the Redback was introduced in 1956, and for the Funnelweb in 1980. No deaths in Australia have been recorded since then.
Red Back spider:
commonly found all over the warmer regions in Australia. Females build loose untidy webs in dry sheltered sites which can hold up to 10 round egg sacs.
Redbacks are black and shiny with a red or orange stripe on the upper surface of the abdomen. Females (up to 10mm) are larger than males (up to 4mm) and can live for 2-3 years producing several thousand offspring. Males live for about 6-7 months and are usually killed during mating by the female.
Only the female’s bite is dangerous and may require anti venom.
commonly found all over Australia. They are usually found under leaf litter and garden rubbish but are adapting to living with humans and moving into our homes. These spiders are mostly nocturnal and hunt for insects and other spiders.
Whitetailed spiders do not lay eggs but create silky structures in which to moult and lay eggs. These spiders are grey to black with elongated bodies and have a distinct white mark on the tip of the abdomen.
The female is about 18mm long and the male is about 12mm long. The Whitetailed spider is not aggressive but can inflict a painful bite.
Black house spider:
Black house spiders are widely distributed in southern and eastern Australia. They are naturally found in garden rubbish and commonly found in window and screen door frames and under eaves.
Black house spiders have black legs and a large abdomen and are dark brown/black in colour. The females are larger than the males and are about 18mm in length while the males are about 9mm. They have a lifespan of approximately 2 years and mature in the summer time.
Black house spiders are commonly mistaken for funnelweb spiders due to the shape of their webs, however, the Black house spider has its web well above ground level while true funnelwebs live in burrows in the ground.
Huntsman spiders are found under rocks, in crevices, garden litter and even enter our houses and cars. They do not build webs and are not aggressive.
They are very large and can measure up to 15cm across and live for two or more years. The females are bigger than the males. Huntsman spiders are usually brown or grey and may have banded legs, with the front legs being significantly longer than the back two.
You can limit spiders from entering your home by taking a few simple precautions, - fit windows and doors with flyscreens – install weather strips on doors – plant trees and shrubs away from the house – keep eaves swept and clear – keep rubbish and garden clippings away from the home
Did you know?
• Antarctica is the only continent in the world where you can’t find spiders
• Most spiders have 4 sets of eyes. The pattern of how they are arranged depends on the species
• Spider blood is light blue
• Jumping spiders are able to jump up to 50 times their own length. They can do this by increasing the amount of blood pressure found in the back limbs.
• When a spider is moving, there are always 4 legs on the surface and 4 off.