Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Australian Spiders

Australian Spiders



|Views: 46 |Likes:
Published by draculavanhelsing
Some backyard West Australian spiders
Some backyard West Australian spiders

More info:

Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Aug 31, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





For more information visit our web site www.agric.wa.gov.au
The Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Agriculture and the State of Western Australia accept no liability whatsoever by reason of negligence or otherwise arising from the use or release of this information or any part of it.
Important Disclaimer
Understanding spiders makes it easier to recognise theirimportant role in the environment. Considering theirnatural services also helps to realise they cause littleharm and this reduces the need for fear.There are many hundreds of species in Australia andsuch an emphasis has been put on spiders beingpoisonous, we often forget that very few spiders areactually harmful. They do not spread disease, nor dothey plunder our food supplies. The truth is, spiders arevery beneficial and feed on a lot of pest insects we wouldotherwise have to contend with. It is estimated that theweight of insects eaten annually by spiders outweighsthe total weight of the entire human population.As we know, spiders are not insects but are in theclass Arachnida. They have only two body parts, thecephalothorax and the abdomen, and eight legs insteadof six. All spiders spin silk, but not all build webs for thepurpose of catching prey. Spiders such as the commonwolf spider run down their prey as would a wolf, whilst atrapdoor spider will lay in wait in its burrow until someprey happens past.In Western Australia, the only spider proven to be lethalis the red-back spider. There has been an effectiveantivenene for this spider since 1956 and there havebeen no deaths from a red-back spider bite in Australiasince 1955. We also have many species of the largetrapdoor spiders and, although venomous, none of theseare considered life threatening. We do not have thedeadly funnel-web spider in this state.Here is some information on our most notorious localspiders.
Red-back spiders
Red-back spiders
(Lactrodectus hasselti) 
are commonand found throughout Australia. They are seen mostlyin disturbed areas and seem to like living near humans.They nest in dry, sheltered areas where they build messytangled webs with sticky tracer leads going to the groundthat “crackle” if you run a stick through them. The femaleis easily identified with her long delicate front legs anda red or orange stripe on her pea-shaped abdomen. Shealso has a red or orange hourglass shape on herunderside. Only the female is considered dangerous butis generally a timid spider, biting only in defence or whendisturbed. The male is very small, and his fangs areunable to penetrate human skin. Very often the male willbe taken by the female as a meal during mating. Ourred-back is the same spider as the black widow of northAmerica.Although red-back spider bites are usually immediatelypainful, the venom (which contains neurotoxins) worksvery slowly. Bites can result in headache, nausea,vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, hypertension and, insevere cases, paralysis.Untreated, the symptoms worsen over a 24-hour periodand may take weeks or months to heal. Red-back spiderbites are the commonest poisonous bites requiringtreatment in Australia, particularly over the summermonths.
Trapdoor spiders
Trapdoor spiders
are also commonthroughout Australia. These are the old-world orprimitive spiders (mygalomorphs) having downward-pointing parallel fangs instead of the more typical pincer-like fangs. This is why they rear up in an apparentlyaggressive manner when threatened. Trapdoors are notaggressive spiders and spend the majority of theirnormally retiring lives in their burrows.Males will wander temporarily during mating season, andthis is usually when these spiders are encountered.Males do not live long after reaching maturity, usuallydying soon after (or during) mating.
No. 07/2003
January 2004
Common spiders in our neighbourhood
By Marc Widmer, Technical Officer, Entomology Branch.
The female red-back usually hangs upside down in her web.
Reviewed March 2007
been reported and some medical studies suggest thatthis may be due to a secondary infection of the wound.Sensational media reporting of severe cases of skinulceration (a condition termed ‘necrotic arachnidism’)has given this spider a fearful reputation it probablydoesn’t deserve.Recent studieshave monitored themedical outcomes ofhundreds of verifiedwhite-tailed spiderbites and foundnot a single caseof ulceration. It iscertainly safe tosay that necroticarachnidism is not acommon outcome ofa white-tailed spider bite. If they are common in thehouse, it is a good idea to check bedding before goingto bed. Also, check your shoes before putting them onand do not leave clothing on the floor, as these spidersare often found sheltering in such situations.
Daddy long-legs
Daddy long-legs
(Pholcus phalangioides) 
arecosmopolitan spiders and are probably the best knownspiders world wide. They are almost always associatedwith human dwellings, famous for their small, daintybodies with long legs up to 50 mm in length. Thesespiders are oftenfound in the house orshed with their thin,tangled webs behinddoors or attached toceilings and upperwalls in the cornersof rooms. The non-sticky web of thedaddy long-legs isreally just a retreat forthe spider and notdesigned to catchprey. The moment aninsect ventures within striking range of the spider it willrace out, bite and tangle up its prey until the strugglequickly ceases.These spiders are harmless but, quite incorrectly,renowned for being deadly poisonous. Although theirvenom is quite toxic, their tiny fangs are incapable ofpenetrating human skin and the venom glands hold solittle poison that it renders this distinction as merelymythical.
Huntsman spiders
Huntsman spiders (family
) are the large‘hairy scary’ spiders that absolutely terrify people whenthey scuttle out from behind a curtain or the sun visor inthe car. In reality, Australian huntsman spiders are afascinating group with 13 genera and 94 describedspecies. Many huntsman spiders live socially in largefamily groups with the mothers showing extraordinarymaternal instinct. These large, hairy grey-brown spidershave flattened bodies and are found throughoutAustralia, preferring to live outside under the bark ofTrapdoor spiders are similar in appearance to fellowmygalomorphs, the funnel-web spiders. Unlike funnel-web spiders, though, they are not consideredlife endangering,although themouse spider, atype of trapdoor, iscapable of a verynasty bite. Not alltrapdoor specieshave a trapdoorlid covering theirholes, althoughthey all livein burrows. Thefemales have longlife spans ranging from 5–20 years, taking several yearsto reach maturity. Insects are their main prey, but preywill also include other spiders and other small animals.
Black house spiders
Black house spiders
(Badumna insignis) 
are also calledwindow spiders because of the tendency to build theirwebs around window frames. These untidy, zigzagthreaded webs usually have one or two funnel-shapedentrances leading into a tubular retreat, and somepeople mistakenly think they may be funnel-web spiders.These robust, hairy spiders range from 9 mm (male) to18 mm (female) in length, are grey to black in colour, andare found Australia wide.Black house spidersare timid and bites tohumans are rare butmay be painful andcan cause generalsymptoms such asnausea, sweatingand vomiting. In afew cases necroticskin lesions havebeen reported aftermultiple bites.These spiders catch a lot of flying insects around thehome and garden, but are generally not tolerated wellbecause of their messy webs around windows, eavesand even the mirrors of the family car! Enemies of thesespiders include parasitic wasps, birds and the white-tailed spider.
White-tailed spiders
White-tailed spiders
(Lampona cylindrata) 
are commonand widespread across Australia. They are notweb builders but vagrant hunters and are oftenseen inside houses, especially on summer evenings,wandering in search of prey. They are medium sizedspiders, with cylindrical abdomens, grey to black bodieswith stout legs and a white patch at the tip of theabdomen. They feed mainly on other spiders, pluckingat their webs to imitate the struggling of an ensnaredinsect and then seizing the unsuspecting spider when itcomes out of its retreat.White-tailed spider bites typically cause initial burningpain followed by swelling and itchiness at the site.Occasionally, weals or cases of blistering ulceration have
Female black house spider in her messy web.Daddy long legs are harmless and do not bite humans.A trapdoor spider out of its burrow.Female white tailed spider ready to lay eggs.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->