Article author: Bruce Gow
The Redback is found across all of Australia; commonly found in disturbed and urban regions.
Identification and Habits:
The Redback Spider is black in colour (sometimes they’re brownish) and they have their signature red tripe running down their upper abdomen longitudinally, on the underside of their abdomen there’s also an orange/red spot in the shape of an “hourglass”. The size of the female Redback is roughly the size of a pea and they have slender legs.
The male is tiny, measuring about 3 mm, and are not a risk to anyone. Their webs consist of a tangled, funnel-like upper ‘retreat’ area from which the vertical threads run to the ground, these are particularly stick as they’re purpose is to catch prey. These sticky strands are attached to objects on the ground (they’re built in and around dry and sheltered areas e.g. beneath rocks, in/underneath logs, shrubbery, piles of junk, sheds, privies and so on.) During the winter season this species is less prevalent compared to other seasons.
Redback bites are common. Their bite can have serious repercussions and are known to have resulted in deaths. Due to their tiny jaws their bites are often ineffective. Symptoms of a Redback bite are pain (which is commonly very severe), severe sweating (there’s always sweating around the bite as well), also symptoms such as weakness in the muscle where the bite occurred as well as nausea and vomiting. There is anti-venom available and since its introduction there have been no deaths.
First Aid Procedures:
To relieve pain apply an ice pack to the affected area. DON’T apply a pressure bandage due to the fact that the venom’s movement is slow and a pressure bandage would only amplify the pain. For positive and effective identification the spider should be collected. Always seek medical attention