There are about a dozen different species of White-Tailed spiders living in Australia, and are found right across the southern half of the country.
Where do you find them?
White-Tailed spiders are nomadic, living both in and outdoors. They live under rocks, bark, leaf litter etc., when outdoors, but will move indoors from spring through autumn. While living indoors they will hide in any nook or cranny, often favouring clothes left lying on the floor, bedclothes, curtain rods, cupboards, bathrooms and laundries.
What do they look like?
- White-Tail spiders have cigar shaped bodies, with the male being narrow and a length of 12mm and the female fatter with a body length of 18-25mm.
- The body colouring varies from grey to dark reddish-brown or even black.
- They have two pairs of faint white spots on either side of the abdomen and a white spot on the tip.
- White-Tail spiders have smooth, glossy legs with a dark reddish tint and orange-brown bands around them.
- White-Tail spiders have fine hairs on the ends of their legs enabling them to walk on smooth or sloping surfaces.
- White-Tail spiders are not bound by webs, and hunt relying on swift movement to catch their prey.
- Other spiders are their favourite food, and they have been known to eat Daddy Long-Legs, Redback, Curtain-Web and Black House spiders.
- White-Tail spiders make temporary silk retreats and spin disc-shaped egg sacs which contain as many as 90 eggs.
- Because they do not remain in webs, the only way you know that they are about is when you see the spiders themselves.
Do they bite?
- White-Tail spiders are not aggressive, but will bite if provoked.
- White-Tail spider bites cause varying symptoms dependent on the individual reaction to the poison.
- These symptoms may include localised burning, stinging, swelling, an itchy lump, blistering, ulceration, nausea and vomiting.
- Bites from these spiders have been reported to cause necrosis (decomposition of the skin). This has only been verified in 14 spider bites over the past 10 years, and none of the victims could confirm the type of spider responsible. This reaction is considered to be rare. However, bacteria on the fangs of the spiders may cause severe infection or other allergic reactions. If bitten, wash the wound with disinfectant and apply an ice-pack. If there is no sign of improvement after 2 hours, seek medical attention.
How to avoid White-Tailed spiders
Catch and remove any you see, and destroy any webs of the spiders they eat. If you know there are any in your house, do not leave clothes lying on the floor and check bed clothes and shake out clothes and shoes before putting them on. Spraying the spiders with the correct spray will kill them, but because they are nomadic, after a time, when the pesticide wears off, you will find more.
Always try to catch the spider responsible and keep it for identification purposes.