Did you know that the white-tail spider is one of the most venomous spiders in Australia? Although they are not aggressive and will generally only bite humans if threatened. Their venom can cause serious health complications if not treated right away. In this post, we’ll discuss the dangers of white-tail spiders and how to protect yourself from them. We’ll also provide some tips for identifying white tails and removing them from your home or workplace and what you should do if you are bitten by one.
White-Tail Spiders in Australia
White tail spiders, sometimes called white tip spiders, are a member of the Lamponidae family and are native to southern and eastern Australia. The most distinguishing feature of this spider is the presence of a white spot on its abdomen, which is why it is also known as the white-tailed spider. These spiders are typically found in dark, damp places such as gardens, cellars and laundry rooms.
In most cases, white-tail spider bites are not serious and can be treated at home. However, some bites can be more serious and may require medical attention.
Why is a White-Tail Spider Dangerous?
A white-tail spider is considered dangerous because it is capable of causing serious skin reactions in humans, including necrotic ulcers. These spiders are commonly found in Australia and New Zealand, and their bites can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. In some cases, the bite may even lead to death.
Meaning of Necrosis
Necrosis is tissue death in the body. It happens when the tissue receives insufficient blood flow, rotting the human flesh. The white-tailed spider and black house spider are two culprits of necrotising arachnidism, a condition of tissue necrosis that is sporadically accompanied by generalized sickness and fatalities.
White-tailed Spider Myth
There were 130 instances of bites reported in a research study, but not one necrotic ulcer developed from confirmed white-tail spiders. There is no proof to support the claim that white-tailed spiders are the monsters who create tissue necrosis. Experts have disproved this fallacy, yet the media still reports on it and thus the anxiety remains.
A misdiagnosis of a white-tail spider bite or “necrotic arachnidism,” or a bite from a flesh-eating spider has been perpetuated. In a research study, however, the workers discovered that all nine patients were wrongly diagnosed. None of the rotting conditions was brought on by white-tailed spider bites.
Only two Australian spiders are deadly, but the others are an interesting group. These are the funnel-web and redback spiders. Both are fatal to humans but have antivenom available.
Interesting Facts about the White-tail Spider
There are two prevalent species in Australia. Lampona murina and Lampona cylindrata. Both species are spread across the country. White-tailed spiders have a cylindrical, cigar-shaped body with a dark reddish-grey colour. A white patch at the apex of their abdomen serves as their identifying character. The female’s abdomen is most of the time larger than the male’s.
The interesting white-tailed spiders like to prowl at night. They prefer to feast on other spiders including curtain-web spiders, daddy-long-legs, redback spiders and black house spiders rather than spinning webs and eating insects.
What do White-tail spiders eat?
The Black House spider, a dreadful stocky black spider about the size of a 20-cent coin, the Brown House spider, and the Redback spider the White Tail spider’s three favourite meals. While Redback spiders are among the most toxic spiders in the world, Black House spiders do have severe but not fatal bites. Because the white tail spiders enjoy hunting, killing, and devouring spiders at night, others would want him nearby.
In gardens, these spiders like to hide behind the bark, rocks, and plant debris. While inside the house, it is more likely to come across a white-tailed spider at night, and in the summer. White-tail spiders inhabit houses to feed on black house spiders rather than humans.
White-tailed spiders like to hide in the spaces between pieces of cloth, especially those left on the floors. The spiders were discovered in bedsheets, towels, and clothing in two-thirds of the bite patients. For those who are not very fond of spiders, it’s a good idea to shake out your bedding, clothing, and towels before using them.
A White-tail Spider Bite
White-tailed spiders are reluctant to pounce. They won’t bite unless provoked. The bite by a white-tailed spider can have one of three outcomes:
- pain alone
- pain and a red mark that lasts less than 24 hours – a red mark appeared following a spider bite in 83% of cases.
- pain plus an itchy red lesion that lasts between 5 and 12 days
Symptoms When Bitten
If you have been bitten by a white-tailed spider, you will experience symptoms akin to a bee sting. It can also cause a number of symptoms, including:
- pain and swelling at the site of the bite
- redness and inflammation around the bite
- blistering or ulceration at the bite site
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle aches and spasms
- joint pain
In some cases, a white-tail spider bite can also lead to more serious symptoms such as:
- difficulty breathing
- paralysis of the muscles used for breathing
First Aid for a White-tail Spider Bite
The first rule is to not panic, even if it could hurt. None of the 130 participants in the 2003 research required hospital admission as a result of the bite. Since these spiders don’t cause skin damage or ulcers, just basic first aid is required if the skin is punctured:
- Always wash the area where the victim was bitten. Apply antiseptic or warm, soapy water to the bite area to clean it.
- Ice packs are the most popular method of treating bites from white-tailed spiders because they minimize swelling. ‘Freezing’ the bite by applying ice to ease any discomfort or swelling (not directly onto the skin – wrap the ice in a tea towel or other cloth to prevent cold burns) is the most common procedure done.
- All victims of a white-tail spider must receive a tetanus vaccine.
- If you suspect a spider bite, go to the doctor right away if the bitten area gets extremely painful or the red blisters look infected or develop an ulcer.
Uses of White Tail Spiders
As generalist predators, spiders play a significant role in the ecology. White tail spiders are one of the general predators that aid in reducing the number of insects in your yard.
Their venom is increasingly being turned into innovative human medicines and suitable antivenom.
It is also used to develop new, sustainable pesticides that are selective in use, which means they are effective for spiders and other insects but not for men. It is this selectivity that makes spider venom such a potent source of novel, long-lasting pesticides and potent medicines.
White Tails can be seen roving inside homes, especially in warmer weather. They are avid predators and feed on other kinds of spiders. – they do not make webs to trap flies or other flying insects. They do consume other spiders, though. Due to this quality, it is more likeable than terrifying.
Getting Rid of Spiders
A lot of people would like to completely get rid of their spider problems. So, how can I kill a white tail spider? There are a few ways to kill a white-tail spider, including:
- Using a chemical spray
- Using a physical method, such as squishing the spider
- Applying heat to the spider, such as with a hair dryer or lighters
- Freezing the spider
Whichever method you choose, be sure to take precautions to protect yourself from being bitten. It is also important to ensure that the spider is actually dead before disposing of it.
White-tail spiders are found throughout Australia and are commonly associated with webs in dark, hidden places. They are mostly nocturnal hunters that actively seek out their prey, which consists of small invertebrates. These spiders can deliver a painful bite if provoked, but there is little evidence to suggest that their venom is harmful to humans.
With proper first aid, most bites will heal without complications. However, some people may experience more serious reactions, such as necrosis or ulceration at the site of the bite. If you suspect you have been bitten by a white-tail spider, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
First Aid for Insect Bites
One of the skills taught at CPR First Aid Cheltenham is handling symptoms of insect bites and any resulting allergic reaction. If you’d like to learn and become certified in a Cheltenham first aid course or in any location, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to guide you in your certification journey from start to finish.