Check your shoes! Funnel web spider numbers set to soar in Australia – as ‘perfect’ conditions create paradise for the world’s most deadly arachnid
- Wet and humid weather have created perfect conditions for funnel web spiders
- The Australian Reptile Park has issued a warning for people to take care
- But ARP also wants people to catch funnel webs so antivenom can be made
Funnel Web spider numbers are set to soar over summer prompting an urgent warning for Australians to stay on the lookout.
The Australian Reptile Park said ‘perfect’ weather wet and humid weather conditions at the start of the eight-legged creature’s mating season, will see a massive population jump in the species.
Funnel webs are primarily found on the nation’s east coast in dense shrubbery or under rocks, and logs – but the creepy-crawlies are also known to venture off into backyard gardens, garages and even unsuspecting people’s shoes.
Just one bite can kill a human in under 15 minutes, with the fast-acting neurotoxin called delta-hexatoxin attacking the nervous system and shutting down vital organs.
‘Keep your garden clear of debris,’ Jake Meney, ARP’s head of reptiles and spiders said on Wednesday.
‘Funnel webs love to hide under old pieces of tin and scrap wood.’
The record rain much of Australia had this year has allowed funnel web spiders (pictured) to thrive
‘In the home, keep things like towels and clothes off the floor as they are a really enticing place for funnel webs to hide.
‘Also keep your shoes indoors and, finally, brush up on funnel web spider first aid’ as they are ‘a highly venomous species … capable of causing death incredibly quickly’.
Mr Meney said the first aid procedure for a venomous spider bite is exactly the same as for a venomous snake bite.
‘Use a firm pressure bandage to (strap) the entire bitten limb, then immobilise the limb, immobilise the victim and seek medical treatment as quickly as possible.’
There have been only 13 recorded funnel web spider deaths in Australia – which all occurred prior to 1981 when antivenom treatments became available.
That’s why Mr Meney has asked the public to catch any funnel webs they see and bring them to the Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast, or its drop off points – but only if it’s safe to do so.
‘We need a constant supply of funnel web donations in order to collect the venom needed for the life-saving antivenom,’ he said.
Funnel webs (pictured) like cool, damp places such as the laundry, garage, in shoes left out on the ground and in pool filters
Jake Meney (pictured) said vigilance is needed as funnel webs leave their burrows to look for a mate and advised people to check their shoes.
‘It takes about 150 funnel webs to produce just one vial of antivenom, so please, if you see a funnel web, catch it,’ he said.
The best way to trap a funnel web in with a jar because the animals ‘can’t climb smooth surfaces and they will not chase you’.
If you have caught a funnel web spider, details of the ARP’s drop-off locations can be found here.
FUNNEL WEB FACTS AND FIRST AID
Funnel webs are one of the best known and the most dangerous type of spider in Australia.
Their venom is highly toxic and potentially very dangerous.
In rare, extreme cases their bite can be fatal.
Symptoms of funnel web spider bite include tingling sensations around the lips, sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache and high blood pressure.
In serious cases there may also be fluid in the lungs and the victim could be rendered unconscious.
Funnel web spiders are found in NSW, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.
Funnel webs love shoes that have been left out, so be very careful making sure they are safe to put on
To avoid funnel web spider bites:
- Keep your garden free of rubble and rubbish where spiders can hide
- Wear shoes, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when working in the garden
- Check shoes and households items for spiders
If you are bitten
As most of the bites tend to be on the hands and feet, a pressure immobilisation bandage should be applied to the bitten limb.
Seek urgent medical attention at hospital once the bandage is applied.
If it is safe, collect the spider in a jar or container so the species can be identified.
Source: NSW Health