Sydney Funnel Web Spider
The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is a ground dweller, commonly found in moist soil areas along much of the eastern coastal area of New South Wales and Victoria.
The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider is one of the world's most deadly spiders. Both the male and female carry atraxotoxin, one of the world's most dangerous toxins.
The bite is dangerous and can cause serious illness or death. The male venom is more toxic than the female and initial symptoms include local pain, mouth numbness, vomiting, abdominal pain, sweating and salivation. There is an anti-venom available.
Bites are usually on a limb. Immediate action should be taken to apply a pressure bandage and immobilise the bitten limb by splinting. Restrict the movement of the victim. If possible, capture the spider for positive identification.
The male Sydney funnel web spider is highly aggressive when disturbed or cornered and is able to inflict multiple bites, with its "flick-knife" hardened fangs.
The mature male Sydney funnel-web spider will leave it's burrow and wander off during hot humid nights, looking for a mate. At this time it is known to enter homes, lodge in footwear, clothing and swimming pools, where they can survive several days under water. Heavy rain or earthworks will drive the Sydney funnel-web spider out of it's burrow and are commonly found wandering around the garden or in the home at such times.
The male Sydney funnel-web spider is about 25 mm and the female about 30 mm in body length. They are shiny black in colour with a dark purplish brown abdomen with a covering of reddish hairs. Unique identification markings include it's long spinnerets, that is, the two appendages on the end of the abdomen. Also the male Sydney funnel-web spider has a distinctive spur on both it's second front legs - refer to illustration on left.
The Blue Mountains funnel-web spider
Highly venomous and is found in the Blue Mountains area, as far west as the Bathurst - Orange region and occasionally in the Sydney basin.
Funnel-web burrows are distinguished from other holes in the ground by the presence of a series of irregular silk 'trip-lines' radiating out from the entrance. Holes are normally found in moist, shaded areas like rockeries, dense shrubs, logs and leaf litter. A small, neat hole lined with a collar of silk which does not extend more than a centimetre from the rim could belong to a trapdoor spider (the common Brown Trapdoor Spider does not build a 'door' for its burrow). Other possible hole owners include mouse spiders, wolf spiders or insects (most commonly cicadas or ants).
The female Funnel-web does not normally leave her burrow, but may be unearthed by excavations, rubbish removal or gardening, or be driven out by heavy rain. Male Funnel-webs leave their burrows to search for females in summer and autumn, and are normally active at night. Wandering spiders are frequently encountered after a period of wet weather.
In areas known to have Funnel-web populations, there are a number of precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of bites. Wandering spiders can enter houses at ground level, often under a door. Fitting weather strips or using draft excluders can block this entry route. A cleared area around the house will discourage Funnel-webs from making burrows there.
Inside a house, Funnel-web spiders will seek shelter to avoid drying out. Consequently it's important to check clothing, shoes or bedding close to, or on the floor, for spiders. The same goes for any shoes or clothing left outdoors or around camp-sites in Funnel-web areas.
Funnel-web Spiders often fall into swimming pools. Spiders can trap a small bubble of air in hairs around the abdomen which aids both breathing and floating, so it should not be assumed that a spider on a pool bottom has drowned. Funnel-webs have been known to survive 24-30 hours under water.