Once a year, around this time each year, we have our house sprayed for pest control. It costs around $250 and I wrote about the last time we had it done in my post called Good News for Those Scared of Australian Spiders and Creepy Crawlies.
Time, I think, that we have it redone.
But before I move on to today’s post though, I want to reiterate that I do see far fewer spiders in my home here in Australia than I ever did back in England. Maybe that is down to the treatment, either way, spiders here are really not that big an issue. That said…..
An Encounter with a Six Legged Spider.
It all started when I went into the laundry room, not to do laundry, of course, but it’s where the beer fridge is. Just as I was about to open the fridge door, I saw something large and ugly out of the corner of my eye.
Now, in my early days after arriving here in Australia I think I would have cruelly and painfully ended this arachnid’s life by spraying him with Raid, the insect equivalent of sulphuric acid. But today, as I always used to do in England, I went to grab my glass and piece of card to capture him humanely. The only difference between here and England is my glass is bigger.
He wasn’t easy to catch, as I stood on the stall and stretched towards him, he dropped to the floor. He landed just to the left of my beer fridge and if he’d had any sense, he would have crawled right under it. But no! As I have found with most spiders, if you stare at them they stand still.
So I stared at him, and he stared at me. We stared at each other. With his eyes fixed on mine and with the speed of a Wild West gunslinger (sort of) I swiftly placed the glass over his head.
Gotcha! I then took him into the garage and dropped him into the no longer used salad drawer, ironically from the beer fridge under which he could have escaped me, so I could get a better picture of him. I’d heard the Huntsman has rather large fangs and wanted to take a look. I’m no arachnologist, but I’m thinking those big things I’ve circled in red are his fangs. My, they are big aren’t they? Update: as several commenters have mentioned below, these are not the spider’s fangs, they are its palps. That’s comforting, isn’t it? And I can only count six legs, has this guy been in a fight? With the photo shoot over, I released my Huntsman back into the wild. Well, my front garden. So he is now freely roaming Australia again, but it isn’t just Australia that gets the Huntsman spider. Virtually every country south of the equator, and a few more besides, also has the Huntsman.
Is the Huntsman spider dangerous?
Yes, if you are an insect or maybe even a small lizard or gecko. They sometimes even eat cockroaches; in my book that makes him a good guy! But harmful to humans? No. A bite from a Huntsman spider on a human may cause some local swelling and a little bit of pain, but it would be gone within a day or two. But the Huntsman is very timid and way too scared of humans.
Expect him to run away, and fast!
Update: In the comments below, Drew . a on November 26, 2017 pointed out that he had been bitten by a Huntsman and that his experience was much worse than I have suggested it would be here. From everything I’ve read, a painful reaction and certainly one that has effects lasting longer than a couple of days is very rare.
In particular, my ‘Wildlife of Greater Brisbane’ book, which is produced by the Queensland Museum describes the bite of a Brown Huntsman Spider as ‘Mild local pain; sometimes redness, itchiness and minor swelling.’
You can read more about the bite of the Huntsman in my response to Drew . a where you will find a link to a medical study PDF. There are some references on some websites claiming that the bite from a particular species of Huntsman can be dangerous to humans, but this same medical report appears to refute those suggestions.
In view of the experience of the commentor though, it is probably best to exercise caution with the Huntsman, and although I have seen many people pick this spider up to remove it from their homes, it is not something I would suggest is a good idea to do. Some people will continue to do that though, as you’ll see in the video at the foot of this article.
I still recommend removing the spider safely though, rather than killing it, as these spiders are good guys.
On with the rest of the article…
So in reality, they look far more frightening than they are. And that, in many ways, is the problem. Beware! These spiders can grow larger than the size of adult human hand, with hairy legs too, so yes, they look scary. And they like hiding in little small spaces.
Imagine driving a car when one falls down on your lap. Nobody can really know for sure how many car drivers have driven into walls, other cars, trees or buildings because of one of these otherwise harmless spiders. So under those kinds of circumstances, yes, the Huntsman can kill (indirectly) a human.
I know it’s not easy, but the trick is not to panic. Like this guy……
Although I think that was a little bit staged, don’t you?
So how do you cope if you’re driving a car and a Huntsman unexpectedly drops in?
Unfortunately, the video I did have here which demonstrated both the right way and the wrong way to deal with a spider in your car has now been taken down by YouTube.
So I’ve replaced it with another video, clearly not shot in Australia, which shows how you should definitely not react to a spider showing up whilst driving in your car…
Harry the Huntsman
Finally, those of you who have read all the comments will know that Rick Boutcher allows Huntsman Spiders to live in his house to take care of pest control. Of course, those of you who haven’t read all the comments won’t know that.
Well, here’s your chance to:
How to safely remove a Huntsman spider from your house
No need to use your boot or a bug spray, just follow these simple instructions…