S for Spiders

Latrodectus hasselti, the Redback spider

Latrodectus hasselti, the Redback spider (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently put out a call for Questions about Australia as part of the A – Z Challenge. Gilly of Lucid Gypsy wanted to know about Australian spiders as she has heard you are bound to get bitten if you step foot on our shores.  Now let me tell you, Gilly is NOT the timid type. I remember reading about her camel riding adventures. Gilly tells us her pull to Africa will overcome her fears of …. well, Gilly doesn’t say what she fears in Africa, but I imagine a few animals on that continent may be a little scarier than the odd deadly spider or two! 😀

Gilly, I can assure you that although we have some 10,000 species of spiders, most of them are less deadly than snakes, sharks or even the wonderful bee.

When I arrived in Australia in 1974 I was very wary of two things: snakes and spiders. We have no snakes in New Zealand and we had no poisonous spiders to speak of other than the Katipo, a relative of the Redback, found mainly in the North Island.  Not having grown up with these creatures I knew I didn’t know one from the other. I just assumed they were ALL deadly until I learnt a bit more.

My mother, born and raised in Sydney, used to tell me about Trap Door spiders and another, I think the Funnel Web, that would crawl inside your shoes overnight. NEVER, was my mother’s warning, ever put your shoes on in the morning without shaking them if you live in Sydney. Naturally, I was very worried about a bite in the night. She never mentioned slippers……..

Threat display by a Sydney funnel-web spider (...

Threat display by a Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been here for a couple of months shy of 39 years and have never seen a deadly spider (other than safely behind glass in the zoo). Yes, I potter around my back yard in bare feet. Given I’ve never seen one, photos are a bit hard for to come by! So the photos are all from non-Oyeniyi sources!

Reading Australian Geographic’s gallery of Australia’s 10 most dangerous spiders, even number 6 on this list seems incredibly benign.

The Redback has invaded New Zealand and does post a threat to native wildlife. The White Tail spider has similarly marched across the Tasman and taken up residence.

Just to balance it out for Gilly, I did find this about spiders on the continent of Africa.

Dangerous Spiders in Africa. While many African spiders are generally harmless, there are a few aggressive, venomous, massive, and downright scary spiders living in Africa. Below is a list of African spiders that in my opinion are all a bit frightening, but would actually never put me off visiting Africa. There are spiders that crave human blood; spiders that could kill a child with one bite; and spiders that are large, hairy and aggressive. But spiders are generally shy, and just like Africa’s deadliest snakes, they very rarely bite human beings.


 Really, compared with the description of the dangers of Australian spiders, I think we are a safer place to visit!

Spiders are the most widely distributed venomous creatures in Australia, with an estimated 10,000 species inhabiting a variety of ecosystems. But even though spiders live around us, from our urban centres to the bush, bites are infrequent. In fact, spiders are less life-threatening than snakes or sharks, or even bees.


Of course, New Zealand is even safer!

English: Australian White-Tailed Spider (Lampo...

English: Australian White-Tailed Spider (Lamponidae) on bathroom tile, approx. 25mm in length. Taken in Castle Hill, Sydney, Australia on 14th December, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit http://myatozchallenge.com to find more countries and articles on the A – Z Challenge. Check out the A – Z of Australia Menu above for other articles on this site.  Do you have a question? 😀

8 comments on “S for Spiders

  1. It’s all making me dizzy… Yikes!


  2. I have seen a few…I wish it were less


  3. Well despite your excellent writing you haven’t convinced me! No wonder there are so many of the pesky things around if some of them can live twenty years. The info about how venomous they are is interesting – I have actually been bitten by a spider right here in the UK when I was was in my teens and I had a swelling on my neck that hurt for ages. I can appreciate their beauty, as long as I know exactly where they are, but you just don’t do you? little b***ers turn up anywhere and now I learn of one that likes to hide under toilet seats? This is the stuff of nightmares, and anxious vomitty tummys!
    If anything I prefer snakes, they feel so sleek and sinewy when you hold them – oh yes I have! But I know that the real danger comes from mozzies and as if to warn me, when I get a bite I get an allergic reaction and a huge lump.
    Thanks for choosing me as one of the first in your A-Z’s Robyn 🙂


    • OMG!!! I forgot the song! Thank you for reminding me – I’ve added the song! 😆

      Don’t mention the mozzzies. I too come out in huge lumps that last for days. At least we don’t have malaria here, but we do have Ross River Fever – ahhhhh – there is my “R”!!


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