Funnel-web spiders are some of the most notorious in the world because of their extremely toxic venom. Australia is home to 35 different species of funnel-webs, six of which have been known to cause severe reactions after a bite. The most dangerous of these is the Sydney funnel-web, which is widely considered to be the most venomous spider in the world. Most funnel-webs live in Southern Queensland and Northern NSW, so being able to identify them and knowing what to do in an emergency situation is wise.
Funnel-webs can vary in color from brown to black to a dark plum color. They are medium to large spiders and range from 1-5 cm. Funnel-webs also have the following characteristics:
- Hairless, shiny carapace (outside, shell-like covering)
- Four fairly long spinnerets
- Eyes grouped close together
- No obvious patterns on the body
- Males have modified second legs with a mating spur
- Large, powerful fangs (can pierce through toenails)
Male funnel-web spider by CSIRO [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Most species of funnel-webs live on the ground in burrows. They prefer cool, damp environments like under rocks, in rotting logs, and under shrubs. A few species of funnel-webs also live in trees. You can tell a funnel-web burrow by the shape and look of the web. They have irregular silk triplines that all radiate from the entrance to look like a funnel. During the warm summer months, male funnel-web spiders will begin to wander in search of a mate. It is these males that most often encounter humans, and males have been responsible for nearly every death associated with funnel-webs.
If you encounter a funnel-web spider, the best thing to do is leave it alone. Funnel-webs are not known for being overly aggressive, but they will defend themselves if threatened. In the case of a bite from a funnel-web spider, quick action is necessary. The Australian Museum recommends using a pressure bandage as soon as possible. Wrap the limb tightly starting at the bite and binding the entire limb above. Then it can be splinted while waiting for medical attention. These steps will reduce the muscle movement and compress the tissues, keeping the venom from spreading as rapidly. Although funnel-webs have a bad reputation, serious bites are still very rare, and there has not been a death from a funnel-web since anti-venom was developed in 1981.
- Don’t leave shoes or clothing outside or on the floor
- Shake out clothing before putting it on
- Wear gloves when gardening
- Be cautious when cleaning out pools (funnel webs can survive underwater for many hours)
- Stay up-to-date on your pest control
If you are in need of spider control along the Sunshine Coast, Radar Pest Control can help. A Radar technician will inspect your property and customize a treatment plan that will work for your situation. Leave all webs where they are, and let us take care of the problem for you. For pest control in Buderim or pest control in Nambour, we have you covered. Contact us today for more information.