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.