Alright folks. Prepare yourselves because this topic is a gnarly one.
With the weather heating up, it’s all but expected that spiders are going to be coming out to play a little more often. According to Lizzy Lowe, Postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University and Samantha Nixon, PhD of The University of Queensland, who wrote a piece on this topic for The Conversation:
“Many insects and spiders have been growing over the winter months to emerge once the weather gets warmer. This means you’re probably going to start noticing more spiders around your house and garden.”
In January of 2020, Australian Reptile Park caught the attention of the masses after they shared a video to Facebook about “Funnel Web Season” – which is the stuff of nightmares, frankly.
In the video, park spokesman Daniel Rumsey spoke about the spike in funnel-web appearances as a result of rainfall and high temperatures at the time – conditions we’re likely going to be seeing again pretty soon.
Apparently, in the warmer months, male funnel-webs go out looking for mates (rather than just staying home and feeling bitter about it, like everyone else). Apparently, this is the case for a number of spider species.
“Funnel-web spiders are potentially one of the most dangerous spiders on the planet, in terms of a bite towards humans, and we have to treat it very seriously,” Rumsey said.
When it comes to treating a bite, he stressed that folks need to move quickly.
“Immobilise the limb, you apply a bandage, and of course, you seek immediate medical attention.”
In saying that, however, he did make clear that no one has died in Australia from a funnel-web spider bite since the 1980s. Now, while funnel-webs are the biggest baddies around, they’re not the only dangers Australia is home to. Mouse spiders and redback spiders are two more nasties you want to steer clear of. (You can find a more exhaustive list here.)
Before you panic, though, know that solid anti-venom treatments are available.
Now, while Australia is broadly known as home of the deadly arachnid, there really is no need to panic. Not all of these eight-legged creeps are harmful. In fact, you’re far more likely to come across the harmless kind.
Lizzy Lowe and Samantha Nixon shared that:
“In your garden you may spot webs with a white cross (from St Andrews cross spiders, Argiope keyserlingi), with leaf retreats (from leaf curling spiders, Phonognatha graeffei), or golden silk (from golden orb weaving spiders, Trichonephila sp.). While impressive, these spiders are shy and their venom is harmless.”
They also pointed out that black house spiders and huntsman spiders, which look scary (that name doesn’t help), are not dangerous.
So, yes. Spider appearances are likely to be on the rise in summer, but more often than not, it’ll be a case of you coming face-to-face with an ugly little critter that won’t do any damage.
And if you want to avoid that kind of interaction, Lizzy Lowe and Samantha Nixon suggest you put your shoes away (don’t leave them outside) and give your house and backyard a regular tidy.
Best of luck, pals.
This article was originally published in November 2020.