Spiders

Funnel Web Spider
Sydney Funnel Web Spider
(Atrax robustus)

Funnel-webs are large black spiders with a shiny head/thorax. The body may range from 1.5 cm up to more than 5 cm long depending on the species. Female funnel-web spiders are stockier than males, with shorter legs and a bigger abdomen, which may be brown or bluish. The eyes are small and closely grouped, the fang bases extend horizontally from the front of the head and the long fangs lie parallel underneath.

Funnel-web spiders live in burrows in sheltered positions in the ground, or in stumps, tree trunks or ferns above the ground. Their burrows are lined with a sock of opaque white silk and several strong strands of silk radiating from the entrance. Males leave their burrows and wander in search of females, particularly during summer and autumn. Bites are most prevalent in this period.

Funnel-web spider venom is highly toxic, and all species should be considered potentially dangerous.


Red Back Spider
Red Back Spider
(Latrodectus mactans hasselti)

The Red Back Spider is found all over Australia in open bush land, but is especially common in urban areas. As one of a number of spiders that prefer inhabited areas, and because it often builds its web in places like bins, sheds or outhouses, the Red back frequently comes into contact with humans, especially during the summer months.

Although not aggressive, over 600 bites occur each year in Australia-often when the spider is accidentally pressed against the hand when cleaning, or lifting material containing a web. Bites are always from females as the male is much smaller and has jaws that are unable to penetrate human skin. The venom is highly toxic.


White Tail Spider
White Tail Spider
(Lampona cylindrata)

White-tailed spiders are found all over they are easily recognized by their long body and distinct white marking at the tip of the abdomen. They should be treated carefully because, although they are not aggressive, their bite has been implicated as an occasional cause of minor skin ulcerations.

The natural habitat of the White-tailed Spider is under rocks and bark or in litter and logs, where it is an active, nocturnal hunter. It builds no web of its own but will approach those made by other spiders, feeling at the outside threads or invading the web. This web disturbance lures the prey spider from its retreat onto the web, where it is stalked and bitten by the invader.

The White-tailed Spider is often seen in older houses and sheds, whose cracks and crevices, as well as the plentiful supply of insects and spiders, make them good places to live.


Black House Spider
Black House Spider
(Badumna insignis)

Also called the Window Spider because of its habit of building a web in window corners, the Black House Spider's untidy, lacy webs are common in all Sydney suburbs.

The web usually has one or more funnel-like entrances, which is why it is sometimes confused with its more famous relative the Sydney Funnel-web. However, the two spiders have very different venom toxicities, appearances and natural histories.

In the natural environment the Black House Spider often builds its web on rough-barked trees or old logs. Trees that have been attacked by wood-boring insects are particularly attractive as the sap that leaks from holes made by these insects attracts ants, butterflies, beetles and bees, all of which make perfect meals for the Black House Spider.


Huntsman Spider
Common Huntsman Spider
(Isopeda Isopedella)

The common Huntsman spider is large, long-legged and hairy, and can move quickly. Its flat body is designed for living under loose bark where it spins its egg sac and hides from predators during the day. It can often be seen at night on tree trunks with its legs spread out and facing downwards, looking for insects.

The size and speed of huntsman spiders have given these spiders an undeservedly bad reputation. On entering houses they eat many of the insects that are potentially more of a nuisance to us than the spiders themselves.

But they do look imposing, especially when found in a car. It is always best to leave car doors and windows closed at night as cars are tempting places for roving huntsmans. They can be encouraged to leave a car by parking it in full sunlight.

 

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