Do you want the good news or a bad news first?
Okay, let’s start with the bad news. Australia has spiders, lots of them. Some of them can kill you. So as far as bad news goes, I guess that’s pretty bad.
When we first moved into our house, it was like a baptism of fire. We were seeing spiders in the house on a daily basis. Being new to the country, we thought this was normal. And the idea of having to “just get used to it” didn’t best please us.
This was one of the first I saw in our house….
Of course, whenever I did see a spider in the house I rushed (after having dealt with it of course) to the computer to try and identify it. The best website I have found for this was easily The Find-a-spider Guide. Did I ever mention I am paranoid? Doesn’t matter. Anyway, I immediately identified the above spider as a Funnel Web.
Update November 2017
If you take a look at a comment made below by Ed November 6, 2017, 6:21 pm, you will see that the above spider is definitely not a funnel-web spider. It’s a Wolf Spider.
If you check out my answer to Ed’s comment, you will see me mention a more recent post called The Australian Wolf Spider: Is It Dangerous? in which I have identified the above spider as a Wolf Spider, but I unfortunately forgot to make changes to this page. Thanks to Ed’s comment, I have been reminded to do that now.
Whilst making this update, I would also like to mention that I no longer believe that Raid, as mentioned below, should be your friend here and I no longer have a ‘spray first and ask questions later‘ policy. We have so many spiders here that will not harm you, so I don’t think the equivalent of throwing acid in their face is the solution.
I have now returned to catching spiders in a tumbler, sliding some cardboard underneath it and taking them outside to safety, just like I used to in the UK.
I would also like to update the information about the funnel-web spiders habitat:
‘Funnel-web spiders live in the moist forest regions of the east coast and highlands of Australia from Tasmania to north Queensland. They are also found in the drier open forests of the Western Slopes of the Great Dividing Range and South Australia’s Gulf ranges.‘ See australianmuseum.net.au for more.
Funnel Web spiders are a killer but fortunately there are not very many places in Australia where they live. Unfortunately, they do live where I am. They also have them in Sydney. Funnel Web’s can grow to the size of a human hand and are one of the most dangerous spiders in the world.
Whilst my (suspected but not a) Funnel Web was one of the first spiders I saw in our house it wasn’t the first. We’d only been in our house about a week when I was laying some coaxial cable along the skirting board when installing a TV set. I was just about to push the cable into the corner of the wall in preparation of tacking it back, when I noticed a small reddish spider that seemed to be standing on its hind legs (that’s the “ready to strike” position). My hand was about 4 inches from its body when I noticed it. My hand was about 5 feet away from its body 1 nanosecond later.
You could say it gave me a fright. But I managed to pull myself together and dig deep to summon up all my courage. I decided it was me or him. I had the safety of my family to consider and without any thought for myself at all, I charged in armed only with…….
Raid will become your friend here. It will replace that little glass tumbler and postcard you used to have for catching spiders. Here it is spray first and ask questions later.
A quick investigation back at my favourite spider website convinced me it was a Redback Spider. The Redbacks is, of course, another spider that can kill. Two brushes with two different kinds of killer in my first two weeks. Nice.
And the spiders kept on coming. This one was up near the ceiling of my garage…..
….and this in the family area.
But things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Our house had been empty for five months before we bought it and spiders had taken over. A quick call to the pest guy so he could come down and give the house a spray soon got it all under control. We went from seeing a spider almost every day to about one a month.
And on reflection, that probably wasn’t a Funnel Web, but more likely a False Funnel Web (looks the same but doesn’t kill) or a Black House Spider. And the Redback could have been a Red House Spider. Even so, all of these have a nasty bite. Most spiders here do.
A quick look in my “Wildlife of the Greater Brisbane” book reveals that there are around 45 different types of spider in this area of which 30 have mild to severe bites. The rest are harmless. It’s also worth mentioning that we also have water spiders and one jumping spider.
But the early days were a great introduction and helped us acclimatise really fast. Back then I used to check the walls, wardrobes and floors in my daughter’s bedroom every night before putting her to bed. Every time I walked into a room my eyes would quickly scan the floor and then all around everywhere else, just to check for spiders.
Now we just live normally, if you see what I mean. I would never have walked barefoot in this house in the early days, but now I do it all the time. And, I’m back to using a little glass tumbler again….
Unless the spider is way too big, then I grab a pint glass…..
Next week, the good news about spiders.
Hi Bob, Thank you for your informative blog; I’ve been following your blog for a long time now simply because I’m 50/50 about moving to Australia: It’s perfect if not for the spider issue. I’m such a major arachnophobe that I’m far less concerned about any danger, and far more worried about simply *seeing* spiders; the huntsman terrifies me the most. Is it true that you can get spiders regularly under car door handles, car visors, in the house? Would it be ok if living in a high rise in a city? Is anywhere safe?:-)
I wonder if you’d mind telling me the reality of the ‘spider plague’ as reported in the news this year during the floods?
It makes it seem that the country is actually plagued with spiders but they’re normally hiding; I mean, we’ve had floods in the UK and in other countries yet ive never seen this in the news before about swarms of spiders here or anywhere else.
Is it the warmer climate? Is this therefore the same in every hot country or do you think Australia might be unique in that respect? Not looking for definitive answers, I’d just love to discuss…
Hi Laura, glad to hear you have been following my blog and considering moving to Australia.
Unfortunately fear of spiders can be a major concern for quite a few people, and it’s such a shame because the reputation of Australian spiders is much worse than the reality. The vast majority of people who live here just don’t even think about spiders at all because they are almost insignificant in our lives.
May I suggest you read the following post from this website…
not specifically what I’ve written, but do read the comments, I think you might find them useful.
I don’t think fear of spiders should stop anyone moving to Australia, mainly because for around $200-250 a year you can have your home professionally sprayed by a pest control company and as a result of that, you probably won’t ever see a spider in your home. Pest control works very well and I suspect if you had it done every nine months, it would be pretty much bullet-proof.
I have now lived here in Australia for 14 years and I have never ever had a spider drop on my lap in the car or even seen a spider in the car. Just once, once, I saw one on the bonnet of my car as I was driving and it disappeared into the engine compartment. When I eventually parked my car about 10 km down the road, he was still hanging on and emerged from under the bonnet and went on his way. No problem at all.
I do remember vague talk of a spider plague during the floods in NSW, but the media love that kind of thing, which is why Australia’s spiders reputation is what it is, it’s all thanks to media coverage.
I honestly see fewer spiders here in Australia than I used to see when I lived in the UK, simply because I do get pest control each year, which I didn’t do in the UK. Don’t let a fear of spiders stop you from moving to Australia, they really are not as big a problem as you probably think.
Here’s another article that’s worth reading, hope it helps…
Thank you so much Bob for your reply and encouraging words! 🙂 i will definitely have a read as well
I visited Sydney, Nelson Bay and manly for 2 and a half weeks back in December and I was scared of spiders b4 coming and so I read your post about a week b4 my travels and even though it reassured me slightly I was still apprehensive and scared b4 going however when I got there i never really came close to any spiders or really saw any during my stay all I saw was a couple golden orb-weaving spiders and about 10 small black spiders dangling from trees while on a walk and since coming back to the uk I have grown a facination with spiders there is something about spiders that I love and you really sparked that facination so thank you.
Glad to hear that your trip to Sydney wasn’t anywhere near as scary as you thought it would be. As you now know firsthand, spiders in Australia aren’t as big a problem as many people think they are, I very rarely see them and most people don’t even think about them.
Also glad to hear my article helped and that fascination with spiders appears to have replaced your fear. Cheers, Bob
That spider you are calling a funnel web is a harmless wolf spider , I keep funnel web spiders and if you had come across one I guarantee you wouldn’t have been getting close up photos of it, Google Sydney funnel web spider and see the difference
Well I’m glad you have mentioned this Ed, because you are absolutely right, it is not a funnel web. I’ve written so many posts on this website, I do forget what is here sometimes.
Just a bit of history, when I first arrived here in Australia which was in November 2007, almost every big black spider I saw I thought was a funnel-web. Of course, the longer I lived here, the less paranoid I became, and I realised that whilst it’s not impossible for a funnel web to possibly find itself in my area, it was very unlikely. I also learnt that other spiders can look like funnel-webs whilst actually being quite harmless.
I wrote a new post about it a few years after this one, here’s the link…
And in that post I have the exact same photograph I have here, but this time identifying it as a wolf spider. Unfortunately for me, I forgot to change the information here. Thanks to you posting your comment, I will now update the above information so as not to mislead anyone.
Whilst I’m talking about it, literally within a couple of months of arriving here, I remember we had a massive storm, it all got very wet outside, and then by the back door of my house, which may not have been fully shut, just inside my living area, I saw this big black shiny spider that frightened the bejesus out of me. If spiders were an organised society, this spider would have been a riot cop, fully armed and wearing black armour.
Now, I did think that could have been a funnel-web, it was hiding in a dark place just behind a wooden cabinet. I think it came inside because it was raining. To my shame, I destroyed it with Raid without even taken a photograph, that’s how quickly I wanted it gone.
It was one scary looking spider.
Of course, we will never know now whether it was a funnel web or not, but I did immediately wish I had dealt with the situation differently and taken a photograph. Never seen a spider as scary as that since either. Never destroyed one with Raid since that either. I’m back to catching them in the jar and dumping them outside, just like I used to in the UK.
Anyway, thanks for letting me know about this, I’ll put an update on here right now.
You guys are hilarious! The USA doesn’t have gun laws!? I knew the rest of the world has a poor opinion of us (unless they want something) but that’s just silly! It’s a huge issue right now, gun control, the logic being that bad guys get their hands on weapons anyway so responsible, law abiding citizens have the right to protect themselves with weapons, or at least to have the option to do so if they need it. I’m not a fan of guns myself but since guns/criminal gun use will never be eradicated from the USA, I can see the logic.
…Or what, do you think we’re all gun-toting, redneck hicks sitting on our front porch, waiting for someone to come by just so we can shoot them? Clearly you’ve never been involved here and are basing your beliefs on what you hear on the news, yahoo, and social media, not on any real legit research or experience, frank. The reality verses what the media wants the rest of the world to think (and hell, even what they want US to think) is quite different. Don’t believe everything CNN – or your countries equivalent – tries to cram down your throat. The USA is called a melting pot but should be thought of more like a bowl of jelly beans- so many different groups of ppl and different cultures that you can’t lump every American citizen together into one specific flavor. To do so is just as ignorant.
As for this particular issue (blog post response) and the USA: Various parts of the US have different levels of nasty critters, most of which can be found in the south where it’s warmer and drier, or wetter (like the Glades in FL.). I’ve lived in the northern US all of my life and the most harmful spider to be seen in the states I’ve lived in have been brown recluses (which is rare) and in states like ND, SD, MN, MO, WY, etc., rattlers are what we are usually looking out for but really only in the country, places with tall grass, and areas with a lot of rock. I have never been afraid of a snake in my bedroom or a killer spider in my kid’s bed in the US, but that’s in the north, as I said. We’re supposed to be going to Australia in December for my hub’s work and I am nervous about it because of the venomous critters there. We’re going to be in Melbourne which I pretty much know next to nothing about. (Call me a wuss but I like being informed about a country before I judge it, and i find your blog very helpful in that regard. )
Funny but I never really worried about this sort of thing before I had a kid – killer pests and death.. .. and at least a majority of gun-wielders here are reasonable. Have you ever successfully tried to reason with a spider? I didn’t think so. 😉
Hello MissL, and welcome.
Firstly, just need to correct you on one thing, it’s not us guys that are hilarious, you are talking about a statement that was made by just one person, Frank, a few comments above. Frank almost certainly knows there are some kind of gun laws in the US, but they are just quite relaxed compared to ours. It’s just the way he phrased it.
I can assure you that here in Australia we do not have news bulletins covering the USA claiming stuff like ‘In the USA today, more redneck hicks have been sitting on their front porches waiting for totally innocent people to swing by just so that they can shoot them…’
We do know though, with a pretty good degree of accuracy, exactly what goes on in the USA. Personally I have visited your country three times so far and I am going for a fourth time in two weeks. I’ve been to New York, Florida, LA, San Diego, Phoenix and that place in California with the very tall trees. So I know, first hand, that it’s now possible to walk into a bar in the USA, have a drink, and not get shot.
The USA has moved on somewhat from those wild west days.
That said I do wholeheartedly believe that your right to protect yourself from criminals with guns is flawed. It is very clear to me that the incidences in which an innocent member of the public has defended themselves against a criminal with a gun successfully are far outweighed by the amount of times innocent members of the public’s guns have been easily accessed by their drug addled teenage offspring, taken to school or the cinema and used to shoot a large number of innocent people for no reason whatsoever.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk scary critters. I really wouldn’t concern yourself too much about what might happen in Melbourne, snake deaths in this country are really rare, maybe one or two a year at most. Some years, nothing. We have a good medical system, we have snake antivenom, to actually die from a snake bite usually requires some unusual circumstances.
I’ve lived here for eight years and despite actively looking for snakes so I can take pictures of them for this website, my sightings of them had been quite rare. You can read about them here…
As for spiders, nobody has died from a spider bite since the 70s, so concerning yourself about them is actually nothing more than a waste of mental energy. All you need to do, and all you need to educate your kid to do, is exercise the same kind of caution that you would in any one of those hot US states. It’s just the same.
Given these statistics, I’m pretty sure that you will have to agree with me when I say that our spiders of far more reasonable than your gunwielding majority.
You, and your kid, will be much safer here, I have no doubt about that.
G’day Bob. Still wading through your older posts. One day I will be up to date with your latest. Hmmm! Probably this time in 2016. Bob I see you have people worrying about our spiders. Especially people from the good ole U S of A. Geez I am terrified of stepping foot in the USA. Not because of spiders but because of the people. They do not have gun laws there and anybody can kill anybody else, it seems with impunity. There are very few deaths or injury even from spider bites in Oz. Yet kids cannot go to school in the USA without some crazy shooting 10 or 12 other kids. This seems to happen on a regular basis. So for Tori and the others thinking of coming to Oz to study I say it is far far far safer here. I would rather take my chances with a Redback spider in my bedroom than go to any school in the USA. Even getting into the country is scary. All you have to do is look at an official the wrong way and suddenly you are on your stomach hands behind your back and a dozen men with itchy fingers training a gun on you. The only gun place worse than the USA are the Arab countries who have somehow figured out instead of shooting the gun in the air like they did 20 years ago if they actually point it at people BEFORE pulling the trigger….
Yeah Bob I enjoy your humour. Oh BTW if people really want information about Oz, you know cute n cuddly versus nasty and deadly point them to my blog.
One thing I have noticed Bob is your blog seems to attract many Wusses who seem scared of waking up in the morning.
Glad you have climatised.
I’ve written about that as well Frank, you will undoubtedly come across it as you catch up, but here’s a shortcut…
Like yourself, I also feel much more comfortable living here in Australia with our snakes and spiders than I would in the US with all their guns. If you read that post and especially the comments, you’ll discover, as I did, that many Americans are hugely protective of their right to carry a gun with many saying without guns how can we defend ourselves?
So I can’t see the gun laws there ever changing, it will probably always be the way it is. If I were an American thinking of moving to Australia the last thing I’d be worried about would be our spiders.
As for my blog, I think it’s more the case that it is found by people who are worried about our critters and doing research about it. That’s why I get these sorts of questions. Australia’s reputation for scary creatures is bigger than the reality.
Anybody who wants to read your blog Frank can click on your name to visit, whenever you add a comment just include your URL just as I have and it’ll work the same way.
Bob! So glad i stumbled upon your website!
Currently I am considering studying abroad (I even considered a WHV) to Australia in the future as I would be coming from America and still studying at University.
As for the spiders – AHHHHH NOOOOO – that Huntsman one freaked me out the most. The first few I thought “eh okay I could probably kill that with a shoe and that one with a bigger shoe” and when you showed me the last two trapped in GLASS CUPS, I thought “America here I come!”
I’m going to read your Good News blog about Spiders next which hopefully is all good.
As for studying abroad I was considering Sydney as I am interested in business (as well as have family there). I was also interested in the Gold Coast as well as more northern like Brisbane. Are there any less spiders there than there would be say where there are more marsh and farm lands?
Yea I am not a fan of spiders!
Hope to hear from you soon Bob!
What, America doesn’t have spiders? Are you sure? They may not be so big, but they certainly have some rather evil spiders in the US. How can you not love our Huntsman, he’s a real gentleman.
I hope the good news post cheers you up a bit more and makes you decide to come back in this direction.
As for there being less spiders in any one place, I think the answer is Finland 🙂 Certainly nothing to choose between the places you mentioned.
Well yes America has spiders, just not as big as those!
And oh yes that Huntsman looks like he’ll greet me as soon as I see with all 8 of his scary legs!
And Bob I was so keen on going and thought “Well I can get over the spiders maybe If i go to the big city and have an apartment or flat on a high floor where they will be too lazy to climb!”
And on facebook today I come across this article:
THAT’S A LOT OF SPIDERS BOB.
Then again I do hear people say, “Don’t you Americans have bears, possums and raccoons running around and even through your trash cans?” And we do, so I ask you Bob if you came to America and saw a possum rummaging through your backyard would you be as equally terrified??
And the only one I’ve seen up lose is about the size of a medium sized golden retriever.
Hey, there’s some cute spiders on that article you found through Facebook 🙂
I had to remove your link to the possum page, it didn’t work. Possums are cute though, well our ones are, see Possums and Opossums: Australia and America. All Explained.
So no, I wouldn’t be terrified of a possum in America, but there’s a few other things that go on in America that would petrify me!
I grew up in Sydney, Australia, but I have lived in the States for 43 years. I remember the funnel web spiders in our backyard as a kid. I remember the holes in the ground where they lived and our neighbor pouring kerosene down the hole and then lighting a match to kill them. On my trips back home over the years I have many funny stories to tell about spiders, especially after visiting my brother in the country. Climbing on the top of his kitchen table because some brown spider was running after us. You have a very funny website.
Thanks Jan, anyone who thinks my website is funny is welcome here 🙂
Scary things, those funnel webs, but kerosene? I think I’d remember that as well if I was a kid witnessing firebombings in my own back garden! But when kids are involved and those things can kill, I’m not surprised, I would have probably done the same.
That brown spider though, chasing you up onto the kitchen table, he had it in for you, didn’t he?
Ah, our eight-legged friends.
loved your posts! I might be moving to Cairns, Queensland this year and I’m also terrified of creepy crawlies 🙁 are there any really horrible critters to worry about in those parts? On an unrelated subject, do you happen to have any info on prices in Australia (for clothes, food, toiletries and the like)? What are the people like (are they really like Fred said in his website)? Thanks a ton
Well Maria, if there were no creepy crawlies or horrible critters in Cairns, it would be the only town in all of Australia 🙂 I’m sure you will be fine though, you’ll get the hang of it.
As for the costs of things, you need to check out my post The Cost of Living in Australia of Everything and take no notice of what Fred said, Aussies are really friendly.
Good luck, and let me know what you think of it at there when you get the chance.
Thanks for the reply. Have found a bit of info on wiki (that oh do reliable source). It does seem a better approach in Oz, with collective contracts and a good dialogue between unions and employers. I’ll try n find some books on culture n history to keep me informed, and get a paper subscription.
Keep enjoying the sun 🙂
I will:-) Thanks Hannah!
Erm, where is the good news about spiders? :$
Really enjoying the site Bob, thank you for the effort.
We are talking about visiting and working for a year as had enough of the UK (working rights shrinking, hours expanding, awful anti poverty discourse and the WEATHER!). Can you please point me in the direction of info about working culture in Australia?
Glad you like the site Hannah, and I’m sure there was some good news about spiders in there somewhere, you probably missed it thinking about the bad news 🙂
Interesting question about Australian working culture, but sorry, I can’t think of anywhere the point you. I’ve not written anything specifically about it, maybe I should. But you’ll be pleased to know that, as far as I’m aware, things haven’t got as bad here as they sound in the UK.
And the weather here is definitely better.
HI. Just moved from Cleveland Qld to Coombabah Qld. Arrived in Cleveland in May from UK. Had no spider / bug problems in Cleveland at all. Didn’t even think ok it. Been in Coombabah 1 week and although I’ve been assured we’re really lucky and have hardly any — great! — I’m freeking out. We’re renting and the owners just sent a pest control guy round to spray but he informed me there’s very little you can do about — huntmen and other pests too. Spiders are my concern. I know there are worse things out there but spiders just cannot be handled. Will the spray keep them out of my way? The summer’s nearly here and I’m panicking that I’m going to encounter massive spiders and will die (heart attack). Is a spray going to work? Are there any good areas in the GOld Coast for being spider free? Can we keep ourselves spider free? Need some reassurance after the pest control guy gave me very little! Thanks By the way – if I’d had your encounters with the spiders in the pictures in your post I’d e on a plane back to the UK (either dead and in a box or first class – either way I’m gone!) Thanks
Sounds as if you don’t like spiders very much 🙂
Pest control really does work, but I think I know what the pest control man is saying as well. If I’m not mistaken, the pest control really does deter these critters from entering your house, but it doesn’t deter all of them. What it does do though is kill all those who do make it into your house within 24 hours.
So you might see a few, but you can rest assured they are already in the process of dying. My guess though is that you won’t see very many, we certainly don’t in our house, I bet I do not see more than half a dozen a year. That’s less than I saw in my house in England.
You are a long way from the outback over in Coombabah, you will be fine. Sounds like your house hasn’t had pest control for a while, just allow it some time to kick in. If it doesn’t work, call the guy back and ask him to redo it, I think they all offer that as a guarantee.
Thanks! Ok – little bit more reassured. Half a dozen ‘normal’ sized ones fine – half a dozen giants– still too many but fingers crossed we’ll be ok. Thanks again for quick reply!
I might be going to Melbourne, Australia next year and I hate spiders so I am totally freaked out about going!!!!!
Don’t worry too much, it’s nowhere near as bad here as many people think. I see less spiders here than I ever did in the UK.
Thank you Bob your posts are hilarious! So glad I discovered your blog !!!!! (while doing some researches about drink driving for my school assignment……..)
Thank you for describing my posts as hilarious! You’ve made me very happy. But shouldn’t you be getting on with your homework?
Just kidding, and I hope you found something useful here to help you with your assignment. Here’s a couple of extra nuggets for you, drink driving is BAD and STUPID, but I suspect you’ve all the worked that out.
Oh. My. God. I’m no longer studying abroad in Australia.
Is that good or bad?
Thank you Melissa, I am kind of proud of my spider collection. I’m sure top and bottom are huntsmen, but not really sure about the others. Nothing too dangerous though…….. I think.
This is the ugliest collection of big, bizarre-looking spiders I’ve ever seen in one place, Bob! EWWWW!!!!! Did you manage to identify them all?
What? What happened? Did you see something yucky?