Needing some urgent Spider Control in Sydney?
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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.
Here’s some tips that we have put together over the years to lessen your chances of being bitten:
Always wear shoes in the garden areas especially during the night. When you are gardening, make sure you are protected by wearing sensible shoes, preferably long trousers and long sleeved shirt. It is strongly recommended that you wear thick gloves to protect yourself from spider bites and other bugs that may cause you harm. To prevent spiders from entering under you doors, consider fitting weather strips and installing plastic insect excluders.
You can purchase Weep Hole Screens (Weepa Protector) from Bunnings at under $30 for a packet of 20.
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
Holes in your yard and garden area are caused by lots of different reasons, but if you spot silken strands strung out from holes about the same size as a fifty cent piece, it’s a good chance they are Funnel web spider trip lines. Look for their holes near trees, inside rockeries, under moist, shaded spots in your garden and around leaf litter. Silky lined holes with fine trip lines are a dead giveaway. 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 females of the Funnel-web species are quite happy living, breeding and giving birth inside her burrows by land excavations commenced through building construction in the area, heavy gardening or even may be driven out by inclement weather. Males of the Funnel-web species have been sighted hunting for females in summer and autumn, especially at night.
Look out for Funnel-web Spiders in swimming pools and gardens near the pool side. Spiders have the ability to capture bubbles of air on their legs and body which helps them to both breath and float. They can live more than twenty four hours under water.
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 Spiders are poisonous but give a painful bite 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 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.
SPIDERS (ORDER ARANEIDA)
COMMONLY OCCURING SPIDERS IN AUSTRALIA
- FAMILY IDIOPPIDAE:
This family is important to pest controllers, since it contains the trapdoor spiders that belong to the genera Arbanitis and Misgolas.
Trapdoor spiders live in holes in the ground, but some species do not necessarily have the cover or trap over the hole that their name implies. Arbanitis spp. do. The most often encountered trapdoor spider around Sydney is the Sydney brown trapdoor, Misgolas rapax. However, some other species look similar; and where a positive identification is required, the specimen should be referred to a specialist, most often in a museum.
- FAMILY LAMPONIDAE:
The white-tailed spider, Lampona cylindrata, belongs to this family. It is a dark grey to black spider with a characteristic white cone on the end of its abdomen. Inside homes, it may be found on walls particularly in the bathroom. It is also found outdoors under loose bark of trees and in leaf litter. It is not an aggressive spider, but like many other spiders, it will bite if touched or placed on the body inside clothing. It was once reported that the bites lead to necrosis of the tissue surrounding the bite, but this theory has been found incorrect.
- FAMILY ACTINOPODIDAE:
Mouse spiders also live in holes in the ground, which may have lids. The male is a wanderer even during the day. Mouse spiders are distributed throughout Australia. In the redheaded mouse spider, Missulena insignis, the forepart of the cephalothorax of the male is red – hence its name. The legs of the female are relatively short compared with those of the male. Female mouse spiders are often confused with the funnel web because of their similar size and shiny black cephalothorax. The eastern mouse spider, M. bradleyi, is often found in swimming pools in coastal NSW.
- FAMILY HEXATHELIDAE:
This family contain the funnel web spiders and their relatives. Spiders in the genera Bymainiella and Aname may be confused with funnel webs on casual examination. Funnel webs are well known for their toxic bites, particularly the male. There are many species in this group other than the Sydney funnel web, Atrax robustus. Hadronyche cerberea, the tree funnel web spider, and Hadronyche formidabilis, the Northern Rivers funnel web spider, are all well-known species and are considered toxic. The male of the Sydney funnel web is often found wandering in summer and autumn when searching for the female. It leaves its funnel shaped webbed burrow when mature and may enter houses. The female spends its entire life in the burrow underground, leaving only to catch prey and mate. The male dies soon after mating, but the female usually lives for some time. Sustained wet weather or the use of insecticides often cause the male to enter houses, garages and sheds, where it may seek shelter in footwear or clothing. It’s a good reason to habitually bang shoes together and ensure they are empty before putting them on.
- FAMILY DEINOPIDAE
The net-casting spiders belong to this family. The most often encountered species is Deinopis subrufa, the common net-casting spider. They usually hang in vegetation, and when an insect passes within their range, they throw a net, held loosely between their two pairs of front legs, over it. Some species have nets that may expand to 50 mm. Their colouration and appearance blend with the vegetation where they occur, making them difficult to see. They are of no concern to pest technicians, because they are entirely useful and their webs are located in vegetation and not on houses.
- FAMILY SCYTODIDAE
This family contains the spitting spiders, Scytodes spp., so called because of their habit of producing a fluid that they squirt onto their prey.
- FAMILY SICARIIDAE
This family contains the fiddleback spider, Loxosceles rufescens. The fiddleback spider was introduced to Australia over 100 years ago, probably from Europe. It has been recorded in South Australia, but since it is rather timid and not obvious, it is likely to be well established. It is about 6-8 mm long. Bites are rare because of its timid nature, but when bites do occur, there is illness and the area of the bite takes some time to heal.
- FAMILY ARANEIDAE
Many often-encountered, web-spinning spiders belong to this family. The nephilas, known as golden orb-weavers, are recognised by their golden webs. The female is about 20 mm long, has rather a bulbous abdomen and is often seen in bushland along Australia’s eastern coast. The female of the Nephila maculate, which occurs in many other countries also (e.g. India, China), has a more elongated body, about 35-40 mm long. The male of all species is much smaller than the female, about 5-6 mm long. These males are often found at the edge of the female’s web or near her. Quite large insects such as cicadas become caught in the webs of these spiders. The scorpiontailed spider, Arachnura higginsii, also occurs in this family. It is characterised by its abdomen, which is drawn out into a tail and often has an obvious process of a different colour on the end of it.
The leafcurling spider, Phonognatha graeffei, lives in curled leaves or paper suspended in its web. The species is often encountered in gardens, and the female is about 6-8 mm long.
The St. Andrew’s cross spider, Argiope keyserlingii, belongs to this family. It is a colourful species that makes a cross or stabilimentum in its web. The spider hangs head downwards with its legs in pairs along the arms of the cross. The female spider is about 12 mm long and larger than the male. The species is considered harmless.
The garden spiders or garden orbweavers also belong to Family Araneidae. There are several species of the genus Eriophora, the most often encountered being E. transmarina. They construct webs between buildings and shrubs and panic some people and children who walk into them. They are often colourful spiders and are not considered to be toxic.
The two-spined spiders also belong to this family. The colourful species Poecilopachys Australasia is often encountered in foliage.
The angling spiders or bolas spiders are placed in this family. These spiders do not make webs but produce a thread about 5-6 cm long with a sticky globule on the end. With this they catch small insects that pass in their range and draw the globule and insect in to them. They occur on foliage and are harmless. They belong to the genus Ordgarius and include the magnificent and hairy imperial spiders.
Family Araneidae also contains many other spiders belonging to several genera, some of which are beautifully camouflaged to blend in with their environment. However, these are harmless.
- FAMILY THOMISIDAE
This family contains the crab spiders and flower spiders with some ant-mimicking species.
- FAMILY CLUBIONIDAE
Other ant-mimicking spiders belong to this family. They resemble ants for protection against predators. Also known as sac spiders.
- FAMILY THERAPHOSIDAE
This family contains the very large spiders, Selenocosmia spp., the so called bird-catching (eating) spiders, which occur in Queensland. They are also known as brush-footed trapdoor spiders. They live in the ground and catch quite large insects and lizards. They are often about 50-60 mm long.
- FAMILY DESIDAE
The well-known black house spider, Badumna insignis, belongs to this family. Much of a pest technicians work in country areas and even in cities involves the treatment of this spider to reduce its web production, which disfigures the buildings. The female is dark brown to black and 15-18 mm long, while the male is only 8-10 mm long. In the wild they construct their webs in the loose bark of trees, but around buildings they make their webs in window frames, in corners, under eaves – in fact, in any place where they have security. The web is a mat with an obvious, roughly round, entrance hole. Their bites cause some pain and swelling, but the patient soon recovers. Medical advice should always be sought as there could be an allergic reaction. Where insecticidal treatment is to be done, it is best to wait until late spring or early summer when all the young have emerged. There are several species of Badumna, and these vary in size, colouration and location of the webs.
- FAMILY PHOLCIDAE
This family contains the daddy-longlegs spiders. These can be confused with harvestmen, which have no constriction between the cephalothorax and abdomen. Harvestmen are not true spiders but belong to Order Opiliones.
The most often encountered daddy-longlegs spider is Pholcus phalangioides found in houses, cupboards and subfloor areas. Technicians are often called in to control these loose-web spinning spiders. The female is about 7-9 mm long and is characterised by its very long legs. Apart from the nuisance value of their webs, they do not harm and are non-toxic.
- FAMILY THERIDIIAE
There are many species in this family, but the best known is the toxic redback, Latrodectus hasselti, the female of which has caused deaths and illness from its bite. Many bites occur on male genitals, as these spiders construct their webs across the seats of outside and often ‘longdrop’ unsewered toilets. The species is found all across Australia, but the female is most often encountered. It hides in stacked articles and rubbish during the day. Males occur in numbers around the female’s web usually in late summer and autumn. The male is small, about 3-4 mm long, and does not bite. The female is about 12-15 mm, black, velvety and has a bright red or orange stripe on the upper surface and pale or red area on the underside. Sometimes the female may be entirely black and be mistaken for another species. The deadly American black widow is the same species as Australia’s redback, but is considered to be a geographic variant. The New Zealand ‘katipo’ or night stinger is also a related species.
An antivenene is available for the treatment of bites of this spider.
- FAMILY LYCOSIDAE
This family contains the wolf spiders, which are mostly in the genus Lycosa. All species are ground dwellers, making their holes in the ground or living in the leaf-litter layer. Most species have a mottled appearance, the male being of lighter build than the female and having more obvious and swollen palps.
The most frequently encountered species in coastal NSW is the garden wolf spider, Lycosa godeffroyi. The size of wolf spiders varies, but L. godeffroyi female is about 20-25 mm long and the male 15-20 mm.
- FAMILY HETEROPODIDAE
This family contains the huntsmen spiders, which are also, and erroneously, known as triantelopes. These spiders often enter houses and may be found on walls. Their natural habitat is under damaged or loose bark of trees. They feed on insects and other arthropods. Some species of the genus Isopeda are quite large, the female being about 40-45 mm long and the male only slightly less. Their front two pairs of legs are longer than their rear two pairs of legs. They are hairy and flattened and able to move sideways very rapidly. They are not toxic and seldom bite, despite their fearsome appearance. There are many species belonging to such genera as Delena.
- FAMILY SALTICIDAE
This family contains mostly small spiders whose front legs, often the front two pairs, are more robustly developed for jumping. They spin mats of web, but they often stray in search of food and are encountered in many different places. They are harmless, mostly shy, and some species are colourful. Some species mimic ants.
SPIDER CONTROL AND AVOIDANCE OF BITES
Within the broad range of urban pest management activites, the control of ground-dwelling spiders (e.g. funnel webs) has involved a serious misuse of pesticides in the ‘blanket-spraying’ treatment of insecticides. Control of ground-dwelling spiders relies on direct contact of the spider with the insecticide. Treatments that attempt such direct contact are likely to be time-consuming and may miss less obvious burrows and spiders, but this procedure is preferable to complete soaking of the area, which would destroy many useful and non-pest species.
Because technicians are often called upon for ground-dwelling spider control and in order to afford the client some ‘peace of mind’, it is essential that some advice be given in relation to the prevention of bites. Advice given may include:
- Wear gloves when gardening and handling soil or rubbish.
- Wear sensible footwear when walking outside, particularly at night, when most ground-dwelling spiders are active.
- Where extensive excavations, landscaping, digging or gardening has occurred nearby, be alert for disturbed ground-dwelling spiders, which may enter buildings.
- Do not leave toys, clothes and other such articles on the ground overnight. Wandering spiders may use them as a temporary resting site.
- Be particularly alert for wandering male funnel webs during the warmer months, (Jan to Mar). It is their mating season, and they may wander into yards and buildings in search of a mate.
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT OF BITES
If, despite control measures and precautionary activity, a funnel web or redback spider bite does occur, it may be treated as shown in table 1.2.
Table 1.2 – Symptoms and treatment of arachnid bites
|Funnel web spider||Redback spider||Australian paralysis tick||Scabies mite|
1. Pain in area of the bite; numbness.
2. Nausea and vomiting.
3. Profuse sweating and collapse.
4. Frothing at the mouth, because of excess salivation.
5. Patient may turn blue because of breathing difficulty.
6. Cramps and pain in limbs or abdomen.
7. Patient may become delirious.
8. Twitching of facial muscles, contractions of limbs, reflexes sluggish, eyes fail to respond to light; coma.
1. Stinging sensation at bite although no sign may be evident.
2. Swelling around bite and paleness; pain and tenderness.
3. Stiffness around bite area.
4. Pain in lower limbs due to absorption of venom in lymphatic system.
5. Patient shows shock symptoms: pallor, weakness, profuse sweating, nausea and vomiting.
6. Some cases show paralysis of lower limbs.
1. Headache, particularly when tick is in the scalp.
2. Inability to read or focus.
3. General malaise.
4. Blurring of vision and weakness in limbs, increasing to paralysis after 4 days.
5. Muscles of respiration become involved, with breathing difficulty.
1. Itching under skin at night; mites mine in upper epidermis of skin.
|First aid treatment:
1. Remove any tight clothing and make patient comfortable.
2. Apply firm pressure over area of bite using a broad roller bandage. Cover bite site, and extend bandage to both the extremity of the limb and as high up the limb as possible and keep movement of that part of the body to a minimum.
3. Remove patient to a hospital ASAP.
4. Avoid stimulants; no liquids taken orally.
5. Warmth to wound produces pain.
|First aid treatment:
1.Remove any tight clothing and make patient comfortable.
2. Apply a cold pack to the bite being careful not to freeze tissue.
3. Seek medical assistance promptly.
|First aid treatment:
1. Remove the tick with a pair of fine forceps – no chemicals.
2. Do not press the tick body. Merely grasp the head and mouth parts; move sideways.
3. If symptoms are advanced or tick is in auditory meotus or any other inaccessible position, refer to a hospital.
|First aid treatment:
1. Attention to personal hygiene.
2. Patient to wash. Seek medical advice.
3. Wash clothing by boiling, and iron creases.
4. Local application of ointment.