Essential Pest Solutions

Australian Spiders

Spiders have lived on Earth for millions of years, making them an ancient species with a long history, providing humans with a rich source of fascination and fear. Australia is home to over 4,000 species of spiders, making it one of the most spider-diverse countries in the world. While some of these spiders are venomous, the vast majority are harmless to humans. In fact, spiders play a vital role in Australian ecosystems by naturally controlling insect populations.

Even though spiders are all around us, serious Australian spider bites are uncommon, and deaths are even rarer. 

Australia is home to several venomous spiders, such as the potentially deadly funnel-web and redback spiders, whose bites can be fatal for children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. But, not to worry, the vast majority of Australian spiders are actually harmless.

Read on for more information and a list of all dangerous Australian spiders with pictures:

Spiders Found in Australia

Australia is home to a diverse range of spiders, including garden orb weavers, St. Andrew’s cross spiders, daddy long legs, and the recently discovered tiny peacock spider. 

Some Australian spiders spin silken webs to protect their eggs, while others, like the trap-door and funnel-web spiders, dig holes with elaborate silken tripwires at the entrances. The following list contains the main Australian spiders whose bites are dangerous and those that are pestilential or require professional spider pest removal from domestic or work environments.

Funnel Web Spider

The Funnel-Web

Funnel-web spiders are found in moist forest regions of Australia’s east coast and highlands from Tasmania to northern Queensland, in South Australia’s Gulf ranges and the Western Slopes of the Great Dividing Range. 

Not all 40 species of the Funnel-web spider found in Australia are dangerous, with only six thought to cause serious envenomation, with victims usually in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. 

Funnel-web spiders of the genus Atrax have a much smaller distribution than the genus Hadronyche. The Funnel-web colour can vary from black to brown, but the hard carapace over the frontal region is always sparsely haired and glossy. 

Funnel-web spiders burrow beneath rocks, rotting logs, crevices, borer holes, rotting wood and trees with rough bark. They prefer moist, cool, sheltered habitats like gardens but rarely in open spaces like lawns. The funnel webs found in Victoria, including Hadronyche modesta, have not been linked to fatalities or serious bites but may cause headaches and nausea.

The Sydney Funnel-Web Spider

Two Sydney Funnel-web spiders (Atrax robustus) and the Southern Tree-dwelling Funnel-web (Hadronyche cerberea) are found from Newcastle to Nowra and Lithgow in the west of NSW. The male Sydney Funnel-web spider was once considered the most lethal spider, responsible for all 13 recorded deaths and numerous serious bites. However, since the introduction of antivenom in 1981, there have been no reported deaths.

Six other species are related to the Hadronyche group; one in SA is the only Funnel-web spider that builds a trapdoor. A Funnel-web’s burrow has silk trip-lines radiating from the entrance of most species.

Red back spider with egg sacs

The Redback Spider

The redback spider is a common Australian spider that is very venomous. It is second only to the funnel-web spider in terms of venom potency. The redback is well-known in Australia, and its bite can be fatal, especially for young children and the elderly. It is closely related to the black widow spider of the United States, but the black widow does not have the red stripe on its back that the redback has.

Female Redback spiders are typically black, sometimes with a brownish hue, and they are recognised by their distinctive red to orange stripe on the upper abdomen. Juvenile Redbacks also display white markings on their abdomens. They have small, hourglass-shaped bodies and slender legs. On the other hand, the markings on the males are often less pronounced, featuring a light brown body, a pale hourglass mark on the underside, and white markings on the upper abdomen.

Redback spiders construct messy, tangled, funnel-like webs, which have sticky, vertical catching threads attached to the ground. These spiders tend to prefer weaving their webs in sheltered, dry areas near human dwellings, such as among rocks, piles of debris, logs, sheds, shrubs, toilets, and beneath garden furniture. 

Among common Australian spiders, the White-tailed spider and the wispy Daddy-long-legs are known to capture and prey upon Redback spiders.

White-tailed Spider

The White-Tailed Spider

White-tailed spiders (the Whitetail spider or white tip) use temporary silk retreats to lay their disc-shaped eggs and moulting. These common Australian spiders’ cigar-shaped bodies are black to grey with a distinct white mark on the tip of their abdomen. 

The female is about 18 mm long; the male is about 12 mm long. These spiders are night hunters; they’re not aggressive, but a bite can be painful with occasional local blistering or ulceration due to a secondary bacterial infection. Little evidence supports a link between skin necrosis and White-tailed spider bites.

Mouse spider

Mouse Spiders

The rarely aggressive, fat, squat Mouse spider is found across Australia in burrows near rivers and creeks and sometimes in suburban gardens. The burrows have double trapdoors almost at right angles to each other. 

The females typically remain in or near their burrows, but males wander in early winter, particularly after rain. Mouse spider females are 10–30 mm long, larger than males, and their head is broad and high with bulbous, very large jaws. 

Female Red-Headed Mouse spiders are dark brown to black, often with red-tinged jaws. The males have a blue abdomen with red jaws and head. The eastern Mouse spider males are black with a bluish-white patch on the front of the abdomen.

One serious bite has been recorded, but fortunately, most bites typically cause only minor effects. However, since little toxicity information is available, any bites should be treated as Funnel-web bites.

Black house spider

The Black House Spider

Black house spiders are found across southern and eastern Australia in tree bark and urban areas, spinning untidy, lacy, funnelled sheets where the spider sits, never leaving. The robust, common house spider is dark brown/black, eats flies and mosquitoes, and is not considered a highly dangerous spider. They have a large abdomen and black legs; the females are about 18 mm long, and the males 9 mm. 

Black house spiders rarely bite and are not aggressive, but the bite may be painful with local swelling, and some people suffer sweating, nausea, vomiting and skin lesions.

Black house spiders are sometimes mistaken for Funnel-webs due to the funnel in their web, but true Funnel-webs live in burrows on the ground.

Huntsman spider

The Huntsman Spider

Huntsman spiders don’t build webs but live under loose bark, foliage, rocks, and crevices and sometimes enter houses or cars. The female Huntsman spider is bigger than the male, growing to 15 cm, including the legs. 

Huntsmen are usually brown or grey, sometimes with banded legs. Despite their appearance, size, and ability to scare people, Huntsman spiders are usually harmless and not aggressive. Their bites can result in local pain and swelling that lasts for a short time, but there have been reports of Huntsman spider bites causing pain, headache, inflammation, vomiting and an irregular pulse.

Trap door spider

The Trap-door Spider

Common Trap-door spiders occur in suburban areas where these timid spiders control many garden pests. The Melbourne Trap-door spider female is larger than the male, from 5–35 mm in length, coloured light to dark brown and covered in fine hairs. The spider is a common ground dweller building burrows with no trapdoor – they have no silk triplines around the entrance to their burrow, unlike Funnel-webs.

Trap-door spiders can live up to 20 years, and females stay in or near their burrows. Trapdoor spiders can be mistaken for Funnel-webs, but their bite is not dangerous -but they have large fangs so the bite can be painful, deep and with local swelling.

Wolf Spider

The Wolf Spider

Wolf spiders occur across Australia in wet coastal to dry inland areas, spreading as spiderlings on air currents. Wolf spiders don’t spin webs but live in leaf litter or burrows, often in gardens, lawns, and gardens. These spiders have eight dark eyes around their heads or cephalothorax. There are many species of this spider, which ranges in size from about 10 to 80mm and coloured brown to greyish in a variety of patterns.

The female wolf spider carries her eggs at the end of her abdomen, and when hatched, they stay on her back until ready to leave.

Wolf spiders are not aggressive; a bite is usually minor, with possible local pain or itching and rare severe symptoms like swelling, nausea, dizziness, and rapid pulse rate.

Dangerous Australian Spiders Chart

Australian Spider Pest Control

Simple preventative measures can include: 

  • Use fly screens and weather strips to limit dangerous spiders entering your house. 
  • Plant trees and bushes away from the house to discourage common spiders from digging burrows near the house or wandering inside. 
  • Always check for spiders in clothes left on the floor or the ground, and wear shoes, long trousers and thick gloves if you’re gardening.

Call Essential Pest Solutions For Spider Control

While you may not like spiders, don’t be afraid of them.  If you have a spider infestation, call us today at Essential Pest Solutions for quality residential and commercial spider eradication, control and removal and to avoid pest problems in an ethical and safe way.

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