Now the Good News About Spiders

Two weeks ago in my post about spiders I gave you the bad news. Today as promised, although one week later than expected due to the Giant Bull Ant invasion, I give you the good news.

Good News about Spiders #1

I have never yet met a spider who didn’t think that it became invisible by standing still. Yes it’s true! Try it for yourself. Although I have to say, this didn’t seem to work for me all the time in England but it does here.

Every Australian spider will stop running when you stare at it. The same happens with geckos. This makes capturing them in a glass (or flattening/spraying them depending on your tactic) very easy. Problems only occur when you need to leave the room to fetch a glass, some spray or a shoe. This can easily be overcome if someone else is in the house by shouting out “can you fetch a glass, some spray or a shoe!” without breaking eye contact with the spider.

Good News about Spiders #2

The deadliest spider in Australia is the funnel web…..

…… followed by the Redback Spider. These are the only two spiders that have caused human deaths in Australia.

Update October 2020; when I originally published this article in 2009, I wrote that “Other spiders that may cause problems include wolf spiders and white-tailed spiders. These two and a few other unidentified spiders can cause skin necrosis, that’s when your flesh gets eaten away.”

There were anecdotal stories around in the media at the time, but here we are over 10 years later, and no one has produced any firm evidence that either of these spiders have caused necrosis. That’s not to say they cannot give you a nasty bite though, so don’t attempt to pick them up. I still favour gently removing spiders from my home, either in an upside down jar or by gently using a dustpan brush. End of update.

So what’s the good news? Antivenom for Redback Spiders was introduced in 1956 and for funnel webs in 1979. Nobody in Australia has died from a spider bite since. People do get bitten, about 2000 times a year by Redback Spiders according to statistics. For most people it just hurts. But for some people, probably around 10%, there is a reaction which requires the antivenom.

It’s a similar story with the funnel web. People do get bitten, but the majority of bites are what they call blanks, no venom is released by the spider. After all, the purpose of the venom is to kill the spider’s prey and prepare it for eating by making it more digestible. I think even these little spiders realise they can’t possibly eat a whole human. So why waste the venom?

Good News about Spiders #3

With a regular pest control programme costing around $250 per year, your house will pretty much be spider free.

Look, I think I’ve done pretty well to come up with three good things about spiders. I know that spiders are a big issue for many people, but the truth is here in Australia, spiders really aren’t an issue at all. Let’s put it this way: 1700 people a year die from road accidents and you are more likely to be hit by lightening or die from a bee sting, than cop it at the jaws of a spider.

So don’t let spiders put you off of coming to Australia. In fact, you might like to think about this as you enjoy the current heatwave if you live in England. According to the British Arachnological Society, the false widow spider has now established itself in the UK, Plymouth and the south coast to be precise, thanks to free boat rides from southern Europe and the milder weather. It bites and can really hurt, but no deaths have been caused.

Welcome to our world.

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • S October 23, 2020, 8:14 pm |

    Please, neither Wolf Spiders nor Whitetails cause permanent injury and have been completely falsely accused. This is a terrible myth that gets perpetuated including on sites like this which should do research and tell the truth so people don’t live in constant fear and also kill essentially harmless spiders based on urban legends

    • BobinOz October 26, 2020, 5:36 pm |

      Yes, that’s true, as mentioned in the comments below that I exchanged with Elliott. This is an old article, but I have now made an amendment above to reflect the lack of evidence of necrosis from these spiders.

  • Elliot August 25, 2015, 9:07 am |

    “… wolf spiders and white-tailed spiders. These two and a few other unidentified spiders can cause skin necrosis”

    Never been proved, actually. Necrosis is much more likely due to staph infections from surface wounds, spiders just get blamed a lot.

    • BobinOz August 25, 2015, 6:50 pm |

      You are right to point that out Elliott, I don’t think it has ever been scientifically proved. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence though, lots of stories, so I thought it was worth mentioning as I think to err on the side of caution, it’s wise to give these spiders a wide berth.

      Both can, for sure, give a pretty nasty bite though.

  • Megan July 14, 2014, 4:47 pm |

    “Every Australian spider will stop running when you stare at it.”

    Not true, sorry. Pretty sure huntsmen can smell fear or something because whenever they come in to my house they never stay put. I’ve even had one run right in the front door, pause to look me straight in the eye (it was big enough that I could see it lift its head), and then continue running for the nearest set of drawers. I’ve had one run at me across the couch not once but twice, had one run at me in my backyard – and even adjust course as I jumped out of the way, had an injured one do a cartwheel in an attempt to escape from me, and had one scamper over my shoulder while I was sitting on the toilet.

    So yeah, I don’t know if it’s just that Sydney huntsmen are more badass than those up north or if they can tell when you’re scared and get a kick out of messing with you, but your experiences and mine simply do not match up…

    • BobinOz July 14, 2014, 9:45 pm |

      Yeah, sorry, I think my quote may have been a little misleading. You need to practice on your stare, it makes a big difference. Think Clint Eastwood in The Good the Bad and the Ugly; maybe you need a half chewed cigar out of the corner of your mouth and a poncho.

      Give that a try and let me know how it goes 🙂

      • Megan July 15, 2014, 9:33 am |

        Yeah, I’ve tried that. She just shot me a Travis Bickle “You talkin’ to me?!” straight back and kept on sauntering up the wall. I’ll have to work on my presence a bit.

  • russell coight February 25, 2014, 7:09 pm |

    Hahaha, the video was hilarious tho ive never seen a huntsman that big. Maybe half that size. His mistake was standing in front of it, if he failed, where did he think it was going to fall haha, bobinoz, you should discuss the worst places to find them, ie above the sunvisor on your car haha

    • BobinOz February 26, 2014, 12:40 am |

      Yes, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that somewhere else I’m sure, not much fun when a Huntsman falls on your lap when you’re driving along at 70 clicks per hour. Their bite won’t do much damage to you, but panicking could pretty much kill you.

      Not easy, I know, but the trick is to stay calm.

      • russell coight February 26, 2014, 6:56 pm |

        Agreed, even better is that strange sensation you get in your legs when the said hutsman runs down the windscreen and hides behind the dashboard with 4hrs of drive time left. It kind of leaves you wishing you had something more protective than thongs on, you feel every wisp of air that moves your leg hairs as you continue the unusually long drive home 😉

  • Anna October 4, 2013, 8:02 am |

    I’ve got false black widow spider at home, attic flat in Dorset… Close to see… Scary, I do have a moment to catch every single spider at home, to make sure, that’s not this one, I found one big, and small, and two other kinds… 🙁

  • Grady September 5, 2013, 6:18 pm |

    I’m not scared of dying from a spider bite, I’m just TERRIFIED of spiders at all. Seeing them, having them touch me, having them in my house. Especially anything bigger than half an inch. Are they really common in your house??

    • BobinOz September 6, 2013, 6:20 pm |

      I see fewer spiders in my house here in Australia then I did when I lived back in the UK. I put that down entirely to pest control, I think it’s well worth doing. I have my house done every year, costs around $200.

      You can read about the first time I did it here…

      …and if you use the Google search bar on the right hand side and search for “pest control” you’ll probably find articles about the other times I’ve had it done. Spiders are in all warm countries, so unless you want to live somewhere cold, you’re stuck with them. They’re not bad here though, so I wouldn’t worry too much.

      Cheers, Bob

      • Grady September 7, 2013, 5:05 am |

        It’s not so much all spiders I’m worried about, it’s just the ones that could knock me over and knife me for my wallet. I’m not even as scared of the small deadly ones as much as the harmless head-sized ones. I know, it doesn’t make sense. But I am completely willing to spray every year and/or walk around with hairspray and a lighter 🙂 Also, I looked up the Huntsman (BLECH!) and found this

        and it’s HILARIOUS 😀
        Sorry if I’m not allowed to post links, I’ll delete it.

        • BobinOz September 9, 2013, 9:58 pm |

          No, it’s okay, I’ve actually posted this video in an article somewhere on this site. It is funny! You’ll be pleased to know that Huntsman spiders do not carry knives or spend money.

          Your wallet will be safe 🙂

        • Anna October 4, 2013, 8:04 am |

          I love this movie, such a brave little girl..

        • russell coight February 25, 2014, 7:12 pm |

          Hahaha, the video was hilarious tho ive never seen a huntsman that big. Maybe half that size. His mistake was standing in front of it, if he failed, where did he think it was going to fall haha, bobinoz, you should discuss the worst places to find them, ie above the sunvisor on your car haha

      • Luke November 27, 2014, 10:18 pm |

        They forgot to mention the mouse spider which is slightly less aggressive and poisonous as the funnel web.

        • BobinOz November 28, 2014, 10:45 pm |

          Yes, that’s true Luke, but the mouse spider very rarely injects its venom so usually it just ends up being a painful bite, nothing more. Not the sort of thing you want to put to a test though 🙂

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