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To reduce spider populations make a habit of regularly having a look around your home and take down any webbing you notice using a long stick or a broom. Do the same inside and use a broom or vacuum to get rid of the webs. This will have a big affect on the amount of spiders you encounter.
To eliminate most types of spider species from areas of human population for any period of time today is almost close to impossible. This is no invisible wonder barrier that spiders just crawl across and die. Though that is the perception of most people.
They don’t even hang around the same nesting sites as in other areas of pest control. So how can you get of spiders safely?
The “trick” is to contact all of the known breeding areas and treat with a low toxic, non-fuming spray applied by a pest control expert. The worst thing you could do is to try and eliminate spiders by spraying aerosols bought from places like Bunnings, Woolworths or Coles and expect to get great results.
Although keeping an area free of spiders is difficult, there are many precautions that can be taken to avoid bites. Avoid walking outside with bare feet, especially at night. When gardening, wear shoes, long trousers and thick gloves to guard against any spiders, scorpions, centipedes or stinging insects. Wandering spiders can enter houses at ground level, often under a door. Fitting weather strips or using draft excluders can block this entry route.
Fitting fly-screens to windows and wall ventilators will prevent any climbing spiders from obtaining access. A cleared area around the house will discourage burrowing spiders from making burrows there.
It is a good idea to educate children to ‘look but don’t touch’ when they find any spiders, and for adults to obey the same rule. It is sensible to be respectful of spiders, rather than frightened of them.
The Sydney Funnel-web Spider
Funnel-web burrows are distinguished from other holes in the ground by the presence of a series of irregular silk ‘trip-lines’ radiating out from the entrance. Holes are normally found in moist, shaded areas like rockeries, dense shrubs, logs and leaf litter. A small, neat hole lined with a collar of silk which does not extend more than a centimeter from the rim could belong to a trapdoor spider (the common Brown Trapdoor Spider does not build a ‘door’ for its burrow). Other possible hole owners include mouse spiders, wolf spiders or insects (most commonly cicadas or ants).
To read up on the Mouse Spider, often mistaken by their burrows for Funnel web, check out our article on the Mouse Spider.
The female Funnel-web does not normally leave her burrow, but may be unearthed by excavations, rubbish removal or gardening, or be driven out by heavy rain. Male Funnel-webs leave their burrows to search for females in summer and autumn, and are normally active at night. Wandering spiders are frequently encountered after a period of wet weather.
Inside a house, Funnel-web spiders will seek shelter to avoid drying out. Consequently it’s important to check clothing, shoes or bedding close to, or on the floor, for spiders. The same goes for any shoes or clothing left outdoors or around camp-sites in Funnel-web areas.
Funnel-web Spiders often fall into swimming pools. Spiders can trap a small bubble of air in hairs around the abdomen which aids both breathing and floating, so it should not be assumed that a spider on a pool bottom has drowned. Funnel-webs have been known to survive 24-30 hours under water.
We have a more detailed and scientific article related to the Sydney Funnel-Web as well as other Funnel-Web species.
The Red-back Spider
An effective way of controlling Redbacks is to carry out regular inspections of suitable Redback habitats, searching for spiders and their webs. The spiders may be removed by pushing a stick into the back of the web and twisting the web, spider and any egg sacs around it. If all the webs on a property are removed, new arrivals will quickly become apparent by the presence of new webs.
Black House or Window Spiders are shy, and are quick to hide in the retreat at the back of their webs if disturbed. Webs are often made in the corners of windows, and may have a funnel-shaped retreat in which the spider shelters. The web may be removed using a broom, or a stick (the same method as for Redbacks), and the spider deposited outside.
It should be noted that Black House Spiders are known to kill and eat Redback Spiders, and that their presence may reduce the chances of large Redback populations becoming established in your area. On the other hand, they are a favoured food of the White-tailed Spider.
Wandering spiders such as wolf spiders (article on Wolf Spiders)and huntsman spiders are best dealt with on an individual basis when encountered. They should be left alone if in the garden, or removed from a house using a broom. They are fast moving, but not normally aggressive. (Read up on this interesting spider here!)
Huntsman spiders can be disconcerting when they jump off walls to make their escape, or appear unexpectedly in your car. Make sure car windows and doors are closed when the car is parked – particularly at night. If a spider is found in a car but evades capture, it can be encouraged to leave by parking the car in a warm place. (We have more info and tips on the Huntsman Spider)
Like Funnel-webs, Brown Trapdoor Spiders and mouse spiders are often found in swimming pools, or unearthed during gardening or construction work. Male trapdoor spiders wander during summer and autumn. They make a burrow with a neat silk collar around the inside, and no trip-lines radiating outwards.
Male mouse spiders are more common later in the year – wandering from April to June – and tend to be active by day. Males of the two species common in New South Wales are easily recognisable by having either a red head and jaw area (Red-headed Mouse Spider), or a pale blue-white patch in front of the abdomen (Eastern Mouse Spider). All female mouse spiders are dark brown to black. The female Red-headed Mouse Spider makes a deep burrow closed above by two trapdoors set a right angles to each other.
Precautions for both trapdoor and mouse spiders are the same as for Funnel-webs. As they are often confused with the Funnel-web, it is wise to treat any bite with caution, especially if the bite is on a child. Trapdoor spider venom is not considered to be dangerous to humans. The venom of mouse spiders, on the other hand, may be highly toxic, and bites should be taken seriously. If possible, capture the spider and have it positively identified, then have appropriate spider control to get populations down to a safe level.
We have a more in depth article regarding the Trapdoor Spider species that you can read for more specific habits, characteristics and distribution of this spider species.