Common Spiders in Australia: How to Identify and Deal with Them

Common Spiders in Australia: How to Identify and Deal with Them

Common Spiders in Australia: How to Identify and Deal with Them

Are you living in Australia and constantly wondering what kind of spiders you encounter in your daily life? With over 2,900 known species of spiders in the country, it can be overwhelming to identify each one. But fear not, this article will guide you in understanding the various spiders found in Australia and how to identify them.

Australia is renowned for its diverse and unique wildlife, and spiders are no exception. From the venomous and notorious Sydney Funnel-web spider to the harmless yet fascinating peacock spider, Australian spiders come in all shapes and sizes. It is crucial to be able to identify them correctly to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

Spider identification in Australia can be a daunting task, especially for those unfamiliar with the region’s arachnid species. However, with a basic understanding of their characteristics and habits, you can confidently identify the spiders you may encounter. This article will provide you with an overview of common spiders in Australia and essential tips to help you distinguish between harmless and dangerous species.

Key Takeaways

  1. Spider Diversity: Australia boasts over 2,900 spider species, ranging from common Red House Spiders to rare Peacock Spiders, providing a comprehensive guide for identifying these varied arachnids.
  2. Ecosystem Contributions: Spiders, like the beneficial Huntsman Spider, play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling pests and contributing to soil aeration through burrowing activities.
  3. Habitat Insights: Understanding where specific spiders are commonly found, whether in urban or natural settings, offers practical insights for encountering diverse species like the Red House Spider indoors or the Mouse Spider in soil burrows.

Common Australian Spiders

A variety of common Australian spiders can be identified using the Australian Spider Chart, a comprehensive visual reference tool. Here are some of the common spiders found in Australia:

  • Red Back Spider: This spider is known for its red colouration and can often be found spinning its webs in houses and gardens.
  • Brown House Spider: Found throughout Australia, this spider is brown in color and builds its webs in buildings and outdoor structures.
  • Ground Spider: These spiders are small and agile, often found hunting on the ground for prey.
  • Black House Spider: This spider is dark in color and can grow to a considerable size.
  • White Spider with Black: This spider has a white body with black markings, making it easily distinguishable.
  • Black Spider with a White Stripe: This spider has a black body with a white stripe running down its back.
  • Huntsman Spider: These spiders are usually brown in colour and can get quite big!
  • Grey Spider: This spider has a grayish coloration and is often found hiding in crevices and under rocks.
  • Small Brown House Spider: Similar to the brown house spider, this species is smaller in size and commonly found indoors in homes across Australia.

Rare Australian Spiders

Australia is home to a variety of spider species, and some are considered rare or less commonly encountered. Here are a few examples of relatively rare Australian spiders:

  1. Peacock Spider (Maratus spp.): Known for their vibrant colors and intricate courtship displays, various species of Peacock Spiders are found in Australia. They are relatively small and are known for their striking visual appearance.
  2. Red-fanged Funnel-web Spider (Hadronyche spp.): Some species within the genus Hadronyche, including the Red-fanged Funnel-web Spider, are venomous and found in specific regions of Australia. They are not as well-known as the Sydney Funnel-web Spider but are considered rare.
  3. Northern Tree-Dwelling Funnel-web Spider (Hadronyche formidabilis): Found in northern Australia, this species is known for its tree-dwelling habits and venomous bite. It is not as widely studied as its ground-dwelling relatives.
  4. Swift Parson Spider (Austracantha minax): This small orb-weaving spider is known for its distinctive spines and is found in various parts of Australia. While not extremely rare, it may not be as commonly encountered as other spiders.
  5. Northern Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila edulis): This large and brightly colored orb-weaving spider is found in northern Australia. While not necessarily rare, its unique appearance and habitat make it noteworthy.
  6. Wandering Spider (Cupiennius spp.): Some wandering spider species are found in Australia, and while they are not extremely rare, they are not as well-known as some of the more infamous spiders in the region.

It’s important to note that rarity can be context-specific, and the distribution and abundance of spiders can vary. Consider ongoing research may lead to the discovery of new species or provide more insights into the ecology of existing ones.

What Spider Is This?

White Tail Spider

Lampona cylindrata

White Tail Spider

The white-tailed spider is a species commonly found in Australia and is known for its distinctive markings and potentially harmful bite. It is a small brown spider with a white back and black spots, making it easily identifiable. Here are some key points to help you understand more about the white tail spider:

Appearance:

  • Small brown spider with a white back and black spots.
  • Distinctive white tail, which gives the spider its name “White Tail Spider” Or “White-tailed Spider”
  • Can be mistaken for other spiders, such as the black house spider with a white stripe.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in various environments, including urban areas and natural habitats.
  • Active during the night and prefers to hide in dark places.
  • Builds irregular-shaped webs in secluded areas.

Bite and Venom:

  • White tail spiders are not considered highly venomous.
  • Bites can cause localised pain, redness, and swelling.
  • In rare cases, bites may lead to necrotic skin lesions, but this is still debated among experts.

Understanding the characteristics and behavior of the white tail spider can help individuals in Australia identify and respond appropriately to encounters with this species.

Mouse Spider

Missulena occatoria

Mouse Spider

The Mouse Spider is a distinctive arachnid species native to Australia, recognised for its intriguing characteristics and potential impact. Here are essential insights into the Mouse Spider:

Appearance:

  • Typically dark-colored with a velvety appearance.
  • Females are larger than males, showcasing a robust build.
  • Often mistaken for funnel-web spiders due to similar features.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found across various Australian regions, inhabiting burrows in soil.
  • Primarily active during the day, with males often wandering in search of mates.
  • Constructs tubular burrows with silk-lined walls, resembling those of funnel-web spiders.

Venom and Bite:

  • Mouse Spider venom is potent but rarely poses a significant threat to humans.
  • Bites may cause localised pain, swelling, and discomfort.
  • While potentially venomous, fatalities are extremely rare, and prompt medical attention is advised.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Mouse Spiders contribute to pest control by preying on insects and other small creatures.
  • Their burrowing activities aerate the soil, impacting the ecosystem positively.

Understanding the Mouse Spider’s distinctive features and behavior enhances awareness and aids in responding appropriately to encounters with this species in the Australian landscape.

Funnel Web Spider

Hadronyche cerberea

Funnel Web Spider

The Funnel-web Spider, a formidable arachnid native to Australia, is renowned for its potent venom and distinctive burrowing behavior. Here are key insights into the characteristics of the Funnel-web Spider, Considered Australia’s deadliest spider:

Appearance:

  • Generally dark-colored, with glossy and robust bodies.
  • Female spiders are larger than males, displaying a sleek and formidable appearance.
  • Recognisable fangs and spinnerets contribute to their imposing look.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in eastern Australia, favoring moist environments like rainforests and gardens.
  • Construct burrows with a tubular entrance and silk-lined walls, resembling a funnel.
  • Active nocturnally, venturing out at night in search of prey.

Venom and Bite:

  • Funnel-web Spider venom is highly toxic to humans, containing neurotoxins.
  • Bites can cause severe symptoms, including sweating, muscle spasms, and respiratory distress.
  • Immediate medical attention is crucial in case of a bite, as antivenom is available.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Funnel-web Spiders play a crucial role in controlling insect populations.
  • Their burrowing activities contribute to soil aeration and ecosystem health.

Conservation Status:

  • Some species, like the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, are considered threatened, emphasising the importance of conservation efforts.

Understanding the distinctive features and potentially harmful effects of the Funnel-web Spider is essential for individuals in regions where these spiders are prevalent, ensuring prompt and appropriate responses to encounters.

Daddy Long Legs Spider

Pholcus phalangioides

Daddy Long Legs Spider

The Daddy Long Legs Spider, also known as the Harvestman Spider, is a unique arachnid with distinctive characteristics. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Characterised by a small, oval-shaped body.
  • Long, delicate legs give it the appearance of an extended, slender frame.
  • Unlike true spiders, the body and head are fused into a single structure.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in various environments globally, ranging from forests to gardens.
  • Nocturnal in nature, active during the night.
  • Primarily scavengers, feeding on small insects, decaying matter, or other organic debris.

Venom and Bite:

  • Daddy Long Legs Spiders are not venomous to humans.
  • Contrary to popular myths, their fangs are too short to pierce human skin, making them harmless.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contribute to ecosystem balance by aiding in decomposition.
  • Play a role in controlling insect populations, serving as opportunistic feeders.

Interesting Facts:

  • Despite the name, Daddy Long Legs Spiders are not true spiders; they belong to the order Opiliones.
  • They lack silk glands, so they do not build webs for hunting or shelter.

Understanding the harmless nature and ecological contributions of the Daddy Long Legs Spider helps dispel misconceptions and promotes coexistence with this fascinating arachnid.

Redback Spider

Latrodectus hasseltii

Redback Spider

The Redback Spider, a venomous arachnid native to Australia, is renowned for its distinctive appearance and potentially harmful bite. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Recognised by a small, black body with a prominent red or orange hourglass-shaped mark on the abdomen.
  • Females are larger than males, showcasing the vivid red marking.
  • Males are smaller and lack the striking red coloration.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Commonly found in urban areas, gardens, and outdoor structures.
  • Constructs messy webs in sheltered locations, including outdoor furniture, sheds, and under ledges.
  • Nocturnal in nature, active at night, resting in retreats during the day.

Venom and Bite:

  • Redback Spider venom contains potent neurotoxins.
  • Bites can cause severe pain, sweating, nausea, and muscle weakness.
  • Antivenom is available, and prompt medical attention is crucial for severe bites.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Redback Spiders play a role in controlling insect populations.
  • Their webs capture various insects, contributing to pest control.

Human Interaction:

  • Redback Spiders are known for their reclusive nature, and bites are relatively rare.
  • Taking precautions, such as wearing gloves when gardening, reduces the risk of accidental bites.

Understanding the Redback Spider’s distinct features and potential effects promotes awareness and appropriate responses to encounters with this species in Australia.

Australian Tarantula Spider

Genus Aphonopelma

Australian Tarantula Spider

The Australian Tarantula, also known as the Bird-eating Spider, is a large and robust arachnid species found in various regions of Australia. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Typically large, with a hairy and robust body.
  • Variety of colours, ranging from brown to black.
  • Fangs are strong and designed for subduing prey.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Inhabits diverse environments, including forests, grasslands, and deserts.
  • Constructs burrows in the ground for shelter.
  • Primarily nocturnal, actively hunting for prey during the night.

Venom and Bite:

  • Australian Tarantulas possess venom, but it is not considered medically significant to humans.
  • Bites may cause localised pain, redness, and swelling, similar to bee stings.
  • While not typically harmful, individuals with allergic reactions should seek medical attention.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contributes to controlling insect populations by preying on various invertebrates, a hunting spider.
  • Plays a role in maintaining ecological balance in its habitat.

Conservation Status:

  • Australian Tarantulas are not currently considered endangered or threatened.

Understanding the Australian Tarantula’s characteristics and its limited threat to humans aids in fostering appreciation for this unique arachnid within the Australian ecosystem.

Huntsman Spider

Delena spp., Holconia spp., Neosparassus sp., Olios spp.

Huntsman Spider

The Huntsman Spider, a common arachnid in Australia, is known for its large size and distinctive appearance. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Recognisable by its flattened body and long, spindly legs.
  • Varied in color, including brown, grey, or patterned markings.
  • Some species can have a leg span of up to 12 inches.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in diverse environments, including homes, gardens, and forests.
  • Typically hunts at night, using speed and agility to capture prey.
  • Prefers hiding in crevices during the day.

Venom and Bite:

  • Huntsman Spiders have venom, but it is not harmful to humans.
  • Bites may cause localised pain, swelling, and redness.
  • Considered non-aggressive, bites are rare and usually occur when the spider feels threatened.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contributes to pest control by preying on insects and small invertebrates.
  • Plays a role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.

Human Interaction:

  • Despite their large size, Huntsman Spiders are generally harmless to humans.
  • Often coexist with people in and around homes.

Understanding the non-threatening nature and beneficial role of the Huntsman Spider promotes coexistence with this arachnid in the Australian environment.

Wolf Spider

Trochosa ruricola

Wolf Spider

The Wolf Spider, a common arachnid in Australia, is recognised for its hunting behavior and robust appearance. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Typically large and robust, with a stout body.
  • Covered in hair, which varies in color from brown to gray.
  • Eyes are arranged in a distinctive pattern, with two large eyes in the center.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in diverse environments, including grasslands, forests, and gardens.
  • Hunts actively at night, using keen eyesight and speed to capture prey.
  • Often constructs silk-lined burrows or retreats for shelter.

Venom and Bite:

  • Wolf Spiders have venom, but it is not considered harmful to humans.
  • Bites may cause localised pain, redness, and swelling.
  • Non-aggressive, bites usually occur when the spider feels threatened.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contributes to pest control by preying on insects and other small invertebrates.
  • Plays a role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.

Human Interaction:

  • Generally harmless to humans, Wolf Spiders prefer to avoid direct contact.
  • Often encountered indoors, where they enter homes in search of prey.

Understanding the beneficial role and non-threatening nature of the Wolf Spider promotes awareness and coexistence in the Australian environment.

Jumping Spider

Salticids

Jumping Spider

The Jumping Spider, a diverse and fascinating group of arachnids, is known for its agile movements and keen eyesight. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Typically small and compact, with a stocky build.
  • Distinctive large front eyes, providing excellent vision.
  • Varied in color, often featuring vibrant patterns.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in diverse environments worldwide, including gardens, forests, and homes.
  • Agile hunters that actively stalk and pounce on prey.
  • Use silk for safety lines and to construct small retreats.

Venom and Bite:

  • Jumping Spiders have venom, but it is not harmful to humans.
  • Bites may cause minor irritation, with localised pain and redness.
  • Known for their non-aggressive nature, bites are rare.

Unique Features:

  • Display intricate courtship rituals, including visual displays and vibrations.
  • Use silk draglines for safety and to navigate.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contribute to pest control by preying on insects and small invertebrates.
  • Play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Human Interaction:

  • Often found indoors, Jumping Spiders are harmless and beneficial.
  • Their captivating behavior and vibrant appearance make them popular subjects for study and observation.

Understanding the fascinating characteristics and beneficial role of Jumping Spiders enhances appreciation for these small but important members of the arachnid world.

Orb-weaving spider

Eriophora spp.

Orb-weaving Spider

The Orb-Weaving Spider, a diverse family of arachnids, is characterised by its intricate webs and skilled silk-spinning abilities. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Varies in size, with females often larger than males.
  • Distinctive circular or wheel-shaped webs, often suspended vertically.
  • Abdomen shapes and colors vary among species.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Found in various environments, including gardens, forests, and grasslands.
  • Webs are meticulously constructed with radial lines and a capture spiral.
  • Typically nocturnal, resting in retreats during the day.

Venom and Bite:

  • Orb-Weaving Spiders possess venom, but it is not harmful to humans.
  • Bites may cause minor irritation, with localised pain and redness.
  • Generally non-aggressive, bites are rare.

Web Structure:

  • Webs serve multiple purposes, including prey capture and shelter.
  • The silk is strong and elastic, facilitating prey entanglement.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contribute significantly to pest control by capturing flying insects.
  • Play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance.

Human Interaction:

  • Orb-Weaving Spiders are generally harmless to humans.
  • Their elaborate webs, particularly dew-covered ones, create visually striking displays in natural settings.

Understanding the unique web-building behavior and ecological contributions of Orb-Weaving Spiders enhances appreciation for these skilled silk-spinners in the arachnid world.

Black House Spider

Badumna insignis

Black House Spider

The Black House Spider, commonly found in Australia, is recognised for its dark appearance and web-building skills. Here’s a concise overview:

Appearance:

  • Typically dark brown to black in color, with a robust and compact body.
  • Females are larger than males, and both genders may have a pale marking on the upper abdomen.
  • Legs are long and slender.

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Commonly found in and around human habitation, constructing webs in corners, crevices, and windows.
  • Builds funnel-shaped webs with a retreat at the narrow end for shelter.
  • Nocturnal and typically remains in its web during the day.

Venom and Bite:

  • Black House Spiders have venom, but it is not considered harmful to humans.
  • Bites may cause localised pain, redness, and swelling.
  • Non-aggressive, bites usually occur when the spider feels threatened.

Web Structure:

  • The funnel-shaped web serves as both a shelter and a trap for prey.
  • Silk draglines are used for safety and navigation.

Role in the Ecosystem:

  • Contributes to pest control by capturing insects in its web.
  • Plays a role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.

Human Interaction:

  • Generally harmless to humans, Black House Spiders coexist with people.
  • Their presence helps control insect populations around homes.

Understanding the characteristics and beneficial role of the Black House Spider promotes coexistence and appreciation for this common arachnid in the Australian environment.

Most Dangerous Australian Spiders

The most dangerous Australian spiders can pose a significant threat to human health and safety and a painful bite. Spider identification is crucial to ensure the appropriate response and treatment in case of a bite.

The Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus) is often considered the most dangerous spider in Australia. It belongs to the family Hexathelidae and is found in and around Sydney.

The male Sydney funnel-web spider is particularly venomous, with a potent neurotoxin that can be life-threatening. However, it’s important to note that fatalities from spider bites are extremely rare due to the availability of antivenom and prompt medical treatment. Other potentially dangerous spiders in Australia include the Redback spider and the Funnel-web spiders found in different regions.

Spider Bites

Spider bites can vary widely based on the species, and understanding the distinct characteristics of spiders is crucial. In Australia, encounters with trapdoor spiders, commonly found near burrow entrances or tree trunks or shallow burrows, may result in bites. Cupboard spiders, often located in dark corners of homes, may deliver bites marked by a white spot. Common house spiders, while generally harmless, can be encountered in various domestic settings.

Aggressive spiders, such as the magnificent spider, may pose a threat if provoked. Nocturnal spiders, like orb-weaving spiders, might bite if disturbed during their active hours. For accurate identification, referring to a spider identification chart or guide becomes essential, given the diverse types of spiders and bites they may inflict. Redback bites, known for their potential discomfort, and dry bites, which involve no venom injection, are among the varied types of bites one might encounter. Staying informed through an identification guide aids in Recognising and responding appropriately to spider bites in different contexts.

What To Do For A Spider Bite?

Spider Bite Treatment

In the event of a spider bite, it’s essential to take prompt and appropriate action to minimise potential complications. Here are general guidelines for dealing with a spider bite but remember, it’s always best to seek medical advice from a licensed professional:

  1. Clean the Bite Area:
    • Wash the bite area gently with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.
    • Avoid using harsh chemicals or applying ice directly to the bite.
  2. Apply a Cold Compress:
    • Use a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth to help reduce swelling and pain.
    • Apply it intermittently for short periods, around 10 minutes each.
  3. Elevate the Area:
    • If the bite is on an extremity, consider elevating it to further reduce swelling.
  4. Avoid Scratching:
    • Refrain from scratching the bite, as it may worsen irritation and increase the risk of infection.
  5. Use Over-the-Counter Medications:
    • Take over-the-counter pain relievers or antihistamines to alleviate pain and reduce itching.
    • Follow the recommended dosage and guidelines.
  6. Seek Medical Attention:
    • If the spider is potentially venomous (e.g., funnel-web or redback spiders), seek immediate medical attention.
    • Monitor for severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or widespread pain.
  7. Capture the Spider (If Possible):
    • If safe to do so, try to capture the spider or take note of its appearance. This can assist medical professionals in identifying the species.
  8. Follow Up:
    • If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a healthcare professional promptly.
    • Provide them with information about the spider bite, including when and where it occurred.

Remember, individual responses to spider bites can vary, and if there’s uncertainty or concern, seeking medical advice is always advisable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Species of Spiders Are Found in Australia?

There are a significant number of spider species found in Australia. The country’s diverse climate and habitats provide favorable conditions for a wide range of spider species to thrive. Australia is known for its unique and often venomous spiders, such as the Sydney funnel-web spider and the redback spider. The exact number of spider species in Australia is difficult to determine, but estimates suggest that there are over 2,000 known species, with many more yet to be discovered and classified.

Are All Australian Spiders Venomous?

Not all Australian spiders are venomous. While Australia is home to many species of spiders, only a small percentage of them possess venom that can be harmful to humans. In fact, the majority of spiders in Australia are harmless and play a crucial role in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations. It is important to exercise caution and avoid close contact with any spider, but there is no need to fear all Australian spiders as venomous.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Spider in Australia?

The average lifespan of a spider in Australia can vary depending on the species. While some spiders may only live for a few months, others can live for several years. Factors such as habitat, diet, and environmental conditions can also influence the lifespan of a spider. It is important to note that this information is a generalisation and individual spiders may have different lifespans within a species.

Do Australian Spiders Have Any Predators?

Australian spiders have a variety of predators in their ecosystems. Some common predators include birds, lizards, frogs, and other spiders. Birds such as kookaburras and magpies feed on spiders, while lizards, like geckos and skinks, are known to prey on smaller spider species. Frogs also play a role in controlling spider populations, as they feed on spiders that come near water sources. Additionally, larger spider species may prey on smaller ones as part of their natural food chain.

Are There Any Spiders in Australia That Are Considered Beneficial to Humans?

There are several spiders in Australia that are considered beneficial to humans. One example is the huntsman spider, which helps control insect populations by feeding on pests like cockroaches and mosquitoes. Another beneficial spider is the redback spider, as it preys on agricultural pests such as fruit flies. Additionally, the orb-weaving spider is known for its ability to catch and eat mosquitoes, helping to reduce their numbers. These spiders play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance and can be seen as beneficial allies for humans.

The information presented on this webpage provides general knowledge about Australian spiders and potential treatments. It is important to note that this content is not meant to serve as medical advice. In the case of a medical emergency, please dial 000 promptly and adhere to the provided guidance.