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Spiders and their webs are unpleasant to look at, but the majority of spiders are not dangerous for anyone. But they are possibly one of the most feared and disliked creatures in Australia.
Black House Spider
Latin name: Badumnainsignis
The Black House Spider, also known as Window Spider, is one of the most common species of spiders in Australia. This spider is dark coloured and typically strong. Females measure about 18 mm, whereas males are only half as big. The carapace, the part of the exoskeleton that covers the cephalothorax (the first anterior major body section) and legs are dark brown to black and the abdomen is grey with a dorsal pattern of white markings.
These spiders are typically found in window framing, under gutters and leaves, in brickwork and among bark and rocks. The web of a Black House Spider looks messy with its triangular sail-like shapes. They are usually found in corners of walls and windows. There is always an entrance in the web, which leads to the nest, where the spider spends most of its time, waiting for its prey. The females have to be forced to leave their webs. If the web gets destroyed, the female spiders repair it continuously.
Household pests, which are attracted to the light of windows and lamps, are the Black House Spiders preferred food. They also feed on moths and mosquitoes, which are attracted by electric light.
To get the female Black House Spiders attention, the male plucks her web. If the female will be receptive, the male can safely approach and inseminate her with his palps. They may then stay together for several days and may mate again several times. To protect the eggs, the female Black House Spider builds white silk egg sacs, which are secured within the web nest. The mother stays with the eggs until they hatch and disperse. The spiders mature during summertime and live for about two years.
Black House Spiders are venomous, but it is not dangerous to humans, except possible infections which are caused by its bite. These bites can be really painful and often cause swelling symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, sweating and giddiness. However, these animals are shy and only leave their nest to capture their prey.
They live in most areas all over the country and prefer urban habitat.
Daddy Long Legs Spider
Latin name: Pholcusphalangioides
Daddy Long Legs Spiders measure about 9 mm and they can easily be recognized by their very long legs. Males tend to have smaller bodies than females but they have longer legs. Legs easily break off.The ability to break off legs is similar to the ability of lizards to break off a portion of their tail if being attacked by a predator. The second pair of legs are the longest and are used as a sensory structure similar to the way insects use their antennae.
Female Daddy Long Legs lay their eggs in soil, under stones, or cracks in wood. The eggs are laid in the autumn and hatch in the spring. They can overwinter as adults and live for up to two years.
This species is generally beneficial. They have a very broad diet that includes spiders and insects, including plant pests such as aphids. Daddy Long Legs also scavenge for dead insects and will eat bird droppings. During fall, they can become a nuisance when they congregate in large clusters on trees and homes, usually around eves and windows. Additionally they can be found in damp crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and garages.
This species does look like a spider, but lack two of the most important features of a spider – venom and silk production. To quickly kill and digest their prey, spiders also produce venom, which they inject through their fangs. Daddy Long Legs do not produce venom, nor do they have fangs.
These animals are beneficial predators and scavengers in nature, control should only be performed when absolutely necessary. The clustering behavior only occurs during fall and for only a brief period of time. Daddy Long Legs do not damage structures when they cluster. If control is necessary, due to a large number of these animals, which is considered unpleasant, insecticide sprays labeled for exterior use on spiders can also be applied directly to Daddy Long Legs found outdoors. However, in nearly all situations, chemical control is not necessary. Most Daddy Long Legs can be removed from structures with a vacuum or broom.
Funnel Web Spiders
Latin name: Family Hexathelidae
Funnel Web Spiders are one of the most feared spiders in Australia. They are the most dangerous spiders in the country – potentially the world.
Funnel Web Spiders derive their name from the unique webs they create. They have a large and bulky body that measures between 25 and 35 mm. The region around their head is characteristically glossy black and the color of their abdomen varies between dark brown and purplish. Fine hairs cover their body and legs.
This spider builds its nest in sheltered habitats like in the bush or in gardens. It has irregular silk trip lines, which radiate out from the burrow entrance. Bites are most prevalent in summer until autumn and may be fatal, as both male and female are poisonous.
Around Brisbane, Funnel Web Spiders are found at the base of Mount Coot-tha, in Daisy Hill ForestPark and adjacent parts of Springwood, and have recently been discovered in Newmarket.In Queensland, males are most active after rain during the warmer months of October to May, and it is at this time they are most likely to be encountered wandering into houses or falling into swimming pools.They are commonly transported indoors with the full basket load of washing off the line.
Male and female Funnel Web Spiders exhibit distinctly different behaviors. The mature male leaves its burrow and may easily enter houses. The venom of the male Funnel WebSpider is five times more toxic than that of the female.The female spends virtually all its life in its burrow, leaving only to catch prey and to mate. The male will die soon after mating however the female will live for some time.This spider can live as long as 3 to 10 years, so pest control is much warranted.
Garden Orb-Weaving Spider
Latin name: Family Araneidae
An adult Garden Orb-Weaving spider is about 20 to 30 mm long. Its bulbous abdomen is often colorful and with a dark to light brown pattern. The common Golden Orb-Weaver spider has a purplish bulbous abdomen with fine hairs and 8 eyes as well as 8 legs. They are easily recognized because of their beautiful, large, round webs, on which they rest, head downward, waiting for prey.
This spider can be found throughout Australia and is particularly common along the eastern coastal areas.
Like all spiders, young Garden Orb-Weaver Spiders hatch from eggs and look like tiny adults. At the end of summer, female Orb-Weavers produce hundreds of eggs that they wrap in a silken egg case. The young spiders hatch during spring and most only live for one year.
The webs made by Orb-Weavers are very organized, and resemble a circular grid. They need weeds, fences, trees, walls, or other upright structures to build their webs. They prefer to place their webs in opening between trees and shrubs where insects are likely to fly.
Orb-Weavers will eat almost anything small enough to get trapped in their webs, especially small insects and other spiders. Like most web-building spiders, Orb-Weavers tend to have poor vision: they don’t need to see very well to hunt because they can “feel” whenever prey gets caught in their webs.
Orb-Weavers are reluctant to bite. Symptoms are usually negligible or mild local pain, numbness and swelling. Occasionally nausea and dizziness can occur after a bite.
Latin name:Family Sparassidae
Huntsman Spiders are known by this name because of their speed and mode of hunting, they are also known as Giant Crap Spiders due to their size and appearance.
Their bodies are mostly grey to brown, sometimes with banded legs. Many Huntsman Spiders have rather flattened bodies adapted for living in narrow spaces under loose bark or rock crevices. This species has eight eyes, which appear in two largely forward-facing rows of four on the anterior aspect of the prosoma. They can grow very large, some males attain a legspan of 250–300 mm. Huntsman Spiders can generally be identified by their legs, which, rather than being jointed vertically relative to the body, are twisted in such a way that in some attitudes the legs extend forward in a crab-like fashion.
Huntsman Spiders occur Australia-wide and can be found living under loose bark on trees, in crevices on rock walls and in logs, under rocks and slabs of bark on the ground, and on foliage. Dozens of the social huntsman species can be seen sitting together under bark on dead trees and stumps but they can also be found on the ground under rocks and bark slabs.
Huntsman Spiders of many species sometimes enter houses. They are also notorious for entering cars, and being found hiding behind sun visors or running across the dashboard.
The huntsman eats a variety of insects, arthropods, small lizards and frogs. The prey is actively stalked and run-down with stealth and speed and not captured in a web. The spiders hold the food item until it is immobilized by the spider’s venom with its large and powerful fangs. They are a non-aggressive group of spiders. However, a large individual can give a painful bite, which occasionally cause mild nausea and headaches, the symptoms are usually only localized pain and swelling.Beware in summer when the female Huntsman Spider is guarding her egg sacs or young.
After mating, the female places her egg sack under bark or a rock and keeps guard of it until hatching. At the appropriate time, the mother spider opens the egg sack to help her spiderlings out and she may stay with her spiderlings for several weeks.
Females are up to 3cm long, very stocky with short, thick legs; they are black to dark brown overall and are larger than the males. Males are 1-2cm long, with longer legs and long palps which look like an extra pair of legs. They are black with a bluish-white patch on the front of their abdomen.Both sexes have enormous fangs and fang bases. A diagnostic structural feature is the very steep slope on the back of the head area.
The Mouse Spider can be found throughout Australia, especially in the east coastal and highland region. It lives in arid conditions as well as rainforests and bushlands, but is also found in suburban gardens. The home of the Mouse Spider is a burrow, oval shaped, of moderate depth and straight down. Female spiders spend all their lives in the burrow. The burrow may be plastered with mud and digestive juices then lined with silk.
The females tend to remain in or near their burrows throughout their life, and are sluggish spiders that are rarely aggressive. However, the females have been found to produce copious amounts of highly toxic venom, which is potentially as dangerous as that of the Funnel-Web Spider.Males wander during early winter, especially after rain. They will assume a threatening posture if disturbed. A bite should be treated the same as a funnel web bite and immediate first aid should be applied.
Insects are the main prey of mouse spiders but their diet could possibly include small vertebrates and other spiders.
Males reach sexually maturity at about 4 years of age. They leave their burrows during the breeding season to find a mate. They go looking for a female during the day and the mating usually takes place in the females burrow.
Latin name: Latrodectushasselti
The Redback Spider is one of the best known poisonous spiders in Australia. It can be found throughout the country and is common in disturbed and urban areas.The adult female is easily recognized by her black body with a prominent red stripe on the upper side of her abdomen and an hourglass-shaped red-orange streak on the underside.Newly-hatched baby spiders are creamy white with darker spots on their back.The female can grow up to 15mm long. Males are very small and usually only grow up to 5mm long.
Redback Spiders can be found in dry sheltered areas around homes, gardens and parks. But you can also find them indoors, especially in human storage areas, which are not disrupted often.
The web of a Redback Spider is definitely very chaotic and not as pretty as webs from other species. The threads are very thick and sticky; the egg sacks will be placed in the back area. Due to the triggers on the web, the spider is able to feel vibrations when there is prey in it.
Prey can be medium and large insects like small lizards, king crickets and trapdoor spiders.The Redback Spiders have to defend their food as ants are known to come along and steal from them. They feed as often as they can, but they are also able to survive up to 100 days without food.
Female Redback Spiders take about 2-3 months to mature and can lay 3-8 egg sacks between September and May with up to 300 eggs in each sack. However, most of the hatchlings will be eaten by their siblings and are very prone to wasp parasitism.
Redback Spiders are one of the most dangerous species of spiders in Australia. Theirbite is very dangerous. The bite location can swell up quickly and it can cause serious pain. Most medical facilities have anti-venom that they can administer. If this is in time, the patient has a very good chance of a full recovery.
Latin name: Lamponacylindrata
The White-Tailed Spider has a dark, elongated body and can grow between 1 and 2.5 cm in length. The abdomen is shaped like a lemon pip and has a dull cream spot on the tip. Male spiders and juveniles often have striped legs and two or four spots at the top of the abdomen, as well as one at the tip of the tail.
The White-Tailed Spider usually lives in the garden under rocks, leaf litter and bark of trees. It does not make a permanent home, but roams at night hunting for food – mainly small insects and other spiders. This wandering habit is the reason why it is commonly found inside houses in bedrooms, in bed clothes, clothes left on the floor, wardrobes, curtains, bathrooms, laundries, and running across the floor or wall in other rooms. Spiders are most active from spring through to late autumn.The best way to deal with these spiders inside the house is to use some common sense. Be aware of places they like to hide, do not leave clothes on the floor and check bedclothes before going to bed. The spiders are active at night, so they are more likely to be seen then.
Their main prey is other spiders. It is an active hunter, stalking the spiders while they are in their own webs. The black house spider in particular is a favorite food item.
The female White-Tailed Spider lays around 80-100 pink eggs in a silk sack and guards the ‘nest’ until the spiderlings emerge. On hatching, the little spiders disperse to find their first meal.
To treat a White-Tailed Spider bite, the wound should be washed with soap and water, dabbed with an antiseptic solution and, if painful, a water–ice pack or anaesthetic cream or lotion applied. Try to locate the spider responsible, and keep it so it can be identified correctly if necessary. Keep the person bitten under observation for 1–3 hours, and if their condition deteriorates seek medical attention.
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