A warning to exercise “extreme caution” has been issued as the breeding season for deadly funnel-web spiders begins.
A single bite can kill a human in less than 15 minutes, with the fast-acting neurotoxin called delta-hexatoxin attacking the nervous system and shutting down vital organs.
Male funnel webs will begin showing up in homes and yards in the coming weeks as they leave their burrows to search for a mate.
They are found mainly on the east coast of Australia in dense shrubs or under rocks and logs.
But these creepy crawlies are also known to venture into gardens, garages and even into unsuspecting people’s shoes.
Warning to use ‘extreme caution’ issued as breeding season for deadly funnel-web spiders (pictured) begins
People in Sydney and other parts of New South Wales can also find spider egg sacs, each containing up to 150 baby spiders.
“Funnel web spider breeding season is here and all the rain this year has caused wet conditions where funnel web spiders thrive,” Australian Reptile Park Director Liz Gabriel said.
“When found inside homes, Sydney funnel web spiders prefer cool, damp places like the laundry room, garage, or shoes left on the floor.
“It’s best to make sure you don’t leave laundry or clothes on the floor,” she said.
“If you leave your shoes outside, be sure to check them before you blindly set foot in them, as shoes can be the perfect little burrow for funnel-web spiders.”
Ms Gabriel also said pool filters should also be checked and cleaned regularly.
There have only been 13 funnel web spider deaths recorded in Australia – all occurring before 1981, when antivenom treatments became available.
That’s why the Australian Reptile Park has asked the public to catch any funnel webs they see and bring them to its drop-off points – but only if it’s safe to do so.
Male funnel webs will start to appear in homes and gardens and even in shoes (pictured) in the coming weeks as they leave their burrows to look for a mate.
The Sydney funnel-web spider (pictured) is the type most likely responsible for the 13 deaths attributed to the bites.
The Reptile Park is the only supplier of funnel-shaped antivenom and needs 150 spiders to make a single vial of the potentially life-saving treatment.
“It’s important that Australians receive proper first aid and know how to catch spiders safely so we can continue to extract their venom and save lives,” Gabriel said.
“We rely on public donations of funnel web spiders to grow our dairy individuals,” Ms Gabriel said.
If you have caught a funnel web spider, details of where to drop off the ARP can be found. here.
FUNNEL-WEB FACTS AND FIRST AID
Funnel webs are one of Australia’s best known and most dangerous spiders.
Their venom is highly toxic and potentially dangerous.
In rare extreme cases, the bite can be fatal.
Symptoms of a funnel-web spider bite include tingling sensations around the lips, sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache and high blood pressure.
In severe cases, there may also be fluid in the lungs and the victim may lose consciousness.
Funnel webs love shoes that have been left out, so be very careful and make sure they are safe to put on.
To avoid funnel-web spider bites:
- Keep your garden free of rubble and trash where spiders can hide
- Wear shoes, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when working in the garden.
- Check shoes and household items for spiders
If you are bitten
Since most bites usually affect the hands and feet, a pressure immobilization bandage should be applied to the bitten limb.
Seek emergency medical attention at the hospital after the bandage is applied.
If it is safe to do so, collect the spider in a jar or container so the species can be identified.
Source: Health New South Wales