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How to Take Care of a Spider Bite? Top 5 Most Common Spiders in Australia

  • June 13, 2024
  • 8 min read
How to Take Care of a Spider Bite? Top 5 Most Common Spiders in Australia

Discovering the world of spiders in Australia can be both fascinating and occasionally unsettling. While spider bites may provoke concerns, it’s essential to separate fact from fiction.

In this exploration, we’ll delve into key insights about Australian spiders, from their varying degrees of danger to practical first-aid measures. Let’s unravel the web of information and foster a better understanding of these eight-legged inhabitants.

Related article: Is there a rodent problem in Australia? How did rodents get to Australia? What is the most common rodent in Australia?

Interesting Fact About Australian Spiders

Let’s start with some basic information about spiders in Australia.

  1. Two Deadly Spiders:
    • It’s important to know that only two types of spiders in Australia are capable of causing harm to humans through their bites: the well-known Redback spider and the Sydney Funnelweb.
    • The good news is that antivenoms are available for both of these spider bites, making treatment accessible and effective.
  2. Rare Fatalities:
    • Despite the potential danger, fatalities from spider bites are exceptionally rare. Over the past four decades, with the introduction of a Funnelweb antivenom, there has been only one reported death in Australia caused by a spider bite.
    • This highlights that while spiders may have venom, severe consequences are extremely uncommon.
  3. Most Spiders Are Harmless:
    • Nearly all Australian spiders possess venom, but the majority are not harmful to humans.
    • Importantly, spiders are generally reluctant to bite and only resort to doing so when they feel threatened. Even those that might appear aggressive usually prefer to avoid confrontation.
  4. Comparing Risks:
    • Surprisingly, spiders are less of a threat than bees when it comes to fatalities. In the 2017-2018 period, 12 people lost their lives due to bee and wasp stings, while there were no reported deaths from spider bites.
    • Despite some spiders having more potent venom, the prevalence of severe allergic reactions to bee stings puts them ahead in terms of overall risk.

Now that we have a grasp of these essential facts, let’s explore some common Australian spiders and understand the level of danger they pose.

A closeup of a southern black widow on a spider silk

How to Take Care of a Spider Bite?

To ensure you’re well-prepared for spider bites, the best approach is to undergo comprehensive first-aid training. This training not only equips you for various medical emergencies but also teaches you how to identify and respond to different stings and bites, including those from spiders.

When it comes to spider bites, medical professionals categorize them into three types for treatment, mainly based on whether it could be a Funnelweb or Redback bite.

  1. Big Black Spider Bites:
    • Dial 000 immediately for emergency assistance.
    • Apply pressure, like using a pressure bandage, to slow down blood flow around the bite and limit its spread.
    • Keep the affected person still and calm whenever possible.
  2. Redback Bites:
    • Use an ice pack to alleviate swelling and pain around the bite.
    • Unlike other spider bites, pressure isn’t necessary, as Redback venom doesn’t spread quickly.
    • If symptoms worsen over time, call 000 for help.
  3. Other Spider Bites:
    • Typically, icepack application is sufficient to reduce pain and swelling.
    • Consider using painkillers like paracetamol to alleviate symptoms.
    • Seek medical assistance only if symptoms significantly worsen.

It’s important to note that these guidelines change if the bite victim displays any signs of anaphylactic reaction, such as throat swelling, a swollen tongue, or difficulty breathing. In such cases, immediately call 000 and, if available, administer adrenaline using an EpiPen or AnaPen. Taking these steps ensures a quick and appropriate response to potential severe reactions.

How Likely For You to Be Bit by a Spider in Australia?

Contrary to what you might think, the likelihood of getting bitten by a spider in Australia is pretty low. Since 1979, there have been only a few spider-bite-related deaths, and that’s mainly because of the highly effective anti-venoms available.

To put things in perspective, you’re more likely to get injured in a car crash than to lose your life due to a spider bite. So, there’s no need to stress too much about it.

Interestingly, the real danger sometimes comes from our reactions to spiders, like when we encounter them unexpectedly, especially in places like our cars. There have been cases of people having accidents because a spider surprised them, say, falling from the sun visor. To avoid such surprises, take a quick look around before you start driving.

As long as you’re cautious and take simple precautions, like checking your shoes before putting them on, you should be absolutely fine. However, it’s good to be aware of which spiders are venomous and what to do if you do get bitten.

Always be mindful of your surroundings, and if you do get a bite, apply cold water or ice to the area. Keep an eye out for symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or unusual swelling. If you notice anything concerning, seek immediate medical attention. Remember, being aware and taking simple steps can go a long way in ensuring your safety.

Here Are the Top 5 Most Common Spiders in Australia

Australia is home to a fascinating array of spiders, and here are the top 5 most common ones that you might encounter. Let’s take a closer look at these eight-legged critters, making it easy to understand and appreciate their unique features.

Private collection of beautiful insects
Trapdoor Spider
  1. Huntsman Spider: Meet the fast and furry friend! The Huntsman Spider is one of the largest spiders in Australia, known for its impressive size and speed. Despite their intimidating appearance, they are generally harmless to humans. Huntsman spiders are experts at hunting insects and are often found in homes. They get their name from their hunting style, as they prefer to actively pursue their prey rather than build webs.
  2. Redback Spider: The not-so-friendly neighbour. The Redback Spider is notorious for its potent venom. Though not usually lethal to humans, their bites can cause discomfort. Identified by a distinctive red stripe on their back, these spiders often hang out in dark, sheltered spots like sheds and outdoor furniture. Redbacks are a close relative of the infamous black widow spider, so it’s best to keep a safe distance if you spot one.
  3. Garden Orb Weaver: The web designer of the spider world. Garden Orb Weavers are known for their intricate, wheel-shaped webs that adorn gardens across Australia. These spiders are large and colourful, with patterns on their abdomen. While their webs may look daunting, these spiders are harmless to humans. They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations in gardens by trapping flying insects in their beautifully crafted silk structures.
  4. Wolf Spider: The wolf of the spider world. Wolf spiders are skilled hunters who actively chase down their prey instead of relying on webs. These spiders are often found in grassy and sandy areas. Wolf spiders are known for their excellent eyesight, which helps them in their hunting endeavours. Despite their name, these spiders are not a threat to humans unless provoked. They are more likely to scurry away than confront someone.
  5. Trapdoor Spider: The architect of underground living. Trapdoor spiders are masters of camouflage and construction. They create burrows with hinged trapdoors, patiently waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by. These spiders are rarely seen as they spend most of their time underground. If you stumble upon a trapdoor spider, consider yourself lucky to witness one of Australia’s expert architects in action.

What Should I Do if I Found Spiders in My House?

Finding spiders in your house is quite common and generally not a cause for major concern. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Identify the Type of Spider: Most spiders are harmless and actually beneficial because they eat other pests like insects. However, if you’re unsure and concerned about venomous spiders, it’s good to try to identify them.
  2. Keep Calm: Spiders usually avoid humans and will not bite unless provoked. Most spider bites are harmless, causing only minor irritation.
  3. Capture and Release: If you’re comfortable doing so, gently capture the spider using a glass and a piece of paper and release it outside. This is the most humane way to deal with spiders.
  4. Reduce Spider Access: Spiders often come indoors in search of food. Keep your house clean and free of insects, as this reduces the spiders’ food source. Seal cracks and gaps in doors, windows, and walls to prevent spiders from entering.
  5. Use Natural Repellents: Spiders are repelled by strong scents such as citrus, vinegar, or essential oils like peppermint or tea tree oil. You can use these around entry points or in areas where you’ve seen spiders to deter them.
  6. Consider Professional Help: Consider contacting a professional pest control service like PestControlBrisbane.com if you have a large infestation or are dealing with venomous spiders that you cannot identify or handle safely. They can provide expert advice and effective solutions to manage and eliminate spiders from your home safely and efficiently.

Remember, most spiders are harmless and actually beneficial because they prey on other pests. Keeping your home clean and sealing entry points can significantly reduce the chances of spiders entering your living spaces.

Final Thought

Australia’s spider population is diverse, and while some species may look intimidating and may considered a pest, most are harmless and even beneficial to the environment. It’s essential to respect these creatures and appreciate the roles they play in maintaining ecological balance. If you encounter a spider, observe from a safe distance, and let them continue their vital work in the intricate tapestry of Australia’s ecosystems.

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