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Spider Infestation Control – Distribution:
Funnel-web spiders are found in:
- New South Wales
- The Australian Capital Territory
- South Australia
The funnel webs are mainly occur along the coast and mountain regions from Gladstone in the north to southern Tasmania. Isolated species occur in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, and in the mountains of North Queensland.
Although the Sydney funnel-web spider is found within about 100 km of the city.
Pest Control Tips
In tropical and subtropical regions, spider prefer to thrive in rainforests and areas of higher altitudes. However, in southern states, they also live in drier eucalypt forests and woodlands, as well as snow country.
Funnel-web spiders are probably the most venomous aggressive spiders in the world.
All funnel web species are lethal to humans, not just the Sydney or Northern tree dweller. If they bite you it is usually a pretty deep injection but even a small grazing bite means get to hospital immediately.
The Sydney Funnel-web constructs its own burrow, which may be over a foot deep or uses a suitable crevice in rocks or round house foundations. Sometimes, Funnel-webs may be found in colonies of over a hundred.
The webs are white and often tubular rather than funnel-like with supporting lines running out to surrounding rocks and debris.
The spiders may take several years to reach maturity and live for perhaps 8 years or longer. When mature, the males leave their webs and lead a homeless existence.
They tend to roam and often enter homes particularly during summer after a heavy downpour of rain. They mate with a female for only one season and if not killed shortly after mating, die within a few months.
This spider is one of Australia’s largest and most easily identified. The body of a female Sydney Funnel-web spider measures about 35mm in length and the male about 25mm.
The paired spinnerets at the end of the abdomen are particularly long, much longer than those of other large dark spiders.
The male is of a more delicate build than the female and has 2 features, which help identification. One is a little spur half way along its second leg on each side and the other is a finely pointed feeler to transfer sperm to the female.
However, most people bitten by them are not injected with sufficient venom to cause any illness.
Often it falls off the tips of the spider’s fangs as it makes a preliminary downward thrust. People bitten by the female may at the most suffer pain around the bitten area.
The venom of the male is 5 times more toxic than the female. Man and monkeys seem to be especially susceptible to the venom.
For example, rabbits can be given very large doses of the venom with no apparent effect but a small dose injected into a monkey produces the terrifying symptoms seen in humans.
In all cases where the victim has died, and in which the spider has been positively identified, it has been a male spider.
The venom contains a low molecular weight toxin called atraxtoxin, which attacks the nerves of the body causing thousands of electrical impulses to be fired down them. The muscles twitch and there is a profuse flow of perspiration, tears and saliva.
The venom also causes changes to blood vessels, which can lead to shock and coma due to brain damage. All the evidence suggests that the effects wear off after a few hours.
Provided the victim reaches hospital before serious illness has developed, he or she has an excellent chance of recovery. An antivenom to the venom of the Sydney Funnel-web spider became available in 1980.
Pest status and management
Funnel-web spider venom is highly toxic, and all species should be considered potentially dangerous. Males wander at night, especially during or after rain, and may enter houses.
Bites by males of two large species, the Sydney funnel-web and northern tree funnel-web, have resulted in death. You need to follow the advice below.
If you are in a known funnel-web area:
- wear gloves when gardening
- know what a burrow looks like and stay away
- wear shoes when walking
- if camping close tent flaps
- carefully shake out shoes before use, any footwear, clothes and sleeping bags left on the ground overnight, as the spiders hide during the day.
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