Summer spreads the welcome mat for spiders to our homes. Now they are everywhere, behind the curtain, above the attic and beside the table. Their scary demeanour is just one of the reasons we don’t want them inside. Our first reaction is to look for insecticides to kill them. Spraying insecticides on them might kill them but insecticides don’t repel them like it does insects. Moreover, insecticides are as harmful to us as they are for the spiders. All the smarty-pant ideas we find in internet may reduce their numbers but fails to eliminate them from our homes. Here are a few tips and tricks that may work in your favour if used wisely.
Spiders have been around your house during the winter too. They were hiding in their burrows specifically designed by them to protect from extreme weather and natural calamities like wild fire. They just procrastinated their entry to your homes. Most of them have accidentally entered your home. Some liked the insects and others have come looking for a mate. Filling every crack and blocking every entry may work to an extend but how practical it is to do that? Same goes with clearing the bush around your house. Spiderlings can travel long distances by ballooning. Ballooning aka kiting is a process by which spiderlings travel through wind by releasing gossamer threads to catch wind.
Here are a few folk remedies, science failed to prove but generations of humans found effective
How to get rid of spiders?
- Keep your home neat and clean – free of insects. That will make your home less inviting for the spiders.
- Whenever you find a lone spider, catch him and leave him outside your house if you are a good soul, else show him the way to heaven. Remember that spiders like humans, love to have kiddies and it is best to send off one than a whole family.
- Place horse chestnut at each corner of your house. Break the chestnut into two or more pieces so that it will release odour. There is no scientific evidence to back it but it was one of Grandma’s favourite tricks to get rid of spiders. Believe me it works.
- If you are a cat lover with a pet cat, talk to your cat hater friend, to know how badly infested is his home with spiders. Houses with cats have much less spiders compared to those without.
- Keeping tobacco at suspected entry points is another method to keep spiders away.
- Make a mixture of 250ml water and around 20 drops of peppermint oil and spray at possible entry points and infested areas. This is one of the most effective methods to keep the spiders away. A mixture of vinegar and water also works.
- If none of this works the last resort is to spray commercial insecticides or seek the help of a professional exterminator.
Spiders of Australia
Out of the 112 families of spiders detailed worldwide, 79 are found in Australia. Spiders are classified in the order Aranae, which is divided into two groups: ‘Primitive spiders’ and ‘Advanced Spiders’ . The major distinction between the two groups are the way they move their fangs. The fangs of Primitive spiders strike downwards like daggers and Advanced spiders move sidewards against each other like pincers. The primitive spider group include funnel webs, trapdoor spiders and whistling spiders; they are generally large dark ground dwelling spiders with long life. Whistling spiders are the largest spiders in Australia which belongs to the tarantula family.
Spiders can also be divided into two other groups, those that hunt their prey or those that catch or trap it. Spiders that hunt their prey are often called wandering spiders.
Australia’s most dangerous Spiders
Funnel Web Spiders
They are Australia’s most notorious spiders. They come under the Hexathelidae family of spiders. Their venom is harmless to animals like dogs, cats, sheep and guinea pigs as they get neutralise in their bodies within half an hour. But they are fatal for humans. The Sydney Funnel Web spider is the most dangerous and venomous among them. It is found only around 120 km radius of Sydney. Different species of Funnelweb spiders are found in Victoria, Capital Territory, NSW, Queensland and Tasmania. They are not found in Western Australia or Northern Territory.
Funnel Webs are usually purple black or blue – black to ebony- charcoal but depending upon the age they may be very dark brown.
It is wise to wear gloves, use enclosed footwear and protective clothing while working in the garden during summer and autumn in the regions they are found.
Funnel-web burrows are distinguished from other holes in the ground by the presence of a series of irregular silk ‘trip-lines’ radiating out from the entrance.
Funnel web spiders do not inject venom. Venom drops are produced on their fang tips. Limited amount of venom is produced by these creatures at any time. Severe envenomation in humans are reported only from male Funnel web spiders.
Northern tree funnel web spiders and Blue Mountain Funnel web spiders are also potentially lethal particularly to children.
Bite from Funnel web produces two clearly visible puncture marks and pain and numbness will occur within ten minutes. Nausea and vomiting will follow and the victim may even faint. The victim salivates excessively with frothing at the mouth. There could be violent twitching and contractions of facial and limb muscles.
Red back Spider
Red back spiders are not aggressive but female’s venom can be fatal. The male’s fangs are too small to penetrate human skin. The pain is severe when bitten and systematic effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache and sweating will occur. The red back spiders do not always have the red markings. Since they prefer dry habitats, often found in warm sheltered locations like letter boxes, empty cans, underneath the car seats etc. They are wide spread throughout Australia
A Red back spider bite will produce clearly visible puncture marks. The venom is very slow to act and the symptoms may take an hour to show. It will start with a stinging sensation at the bite area. After some hours’ stiffness around infected area may occur. It can gradually develop into intense pain in the lower limbs, rarely paralysis of lower limbs can occur. Intense shivering may follow. The real effect of the bite can take hours or even days to develop.
Do not apply restrictive bandage near the bite as the spider injects tiny drops of venom and it is slow moving. An effective anti-venom is available since the 50’s.
Mouse Spiders have their eight eyes in two rows in wide rectangular arrangement. They are stout spiders with huge Chelicerae. Most in this species are black or dark brown but males of some have bright red body parts. Mouse spiders are quite common in Australian suburbs. Mouse spiders rarely bite humans. When they do it can result in serious symptoms similar to funnel web spider bites. They rarely show aggression but the colourful male shows aggression and bites if they are cornered or threatened.
The colourful Red headed Mouse spider is highly venomous and bites can cause local swelling, burning and itchiness. These spiders are often found when gardens are being dug or soil turned over.
Recluse or Fiddle-back spiders
Their bites can cause severe necrotic lesions. The Mediterranean Recluse Spider found in South Australia and the Chilean Recluse Spider found in Sydney are the most common in Australia. Mediterranean Recluse Spider is a long legged Reddish Brown Spider usually lives in buildings and accumulated litter outside houses. These spiders mainly bite only in defence so the risk from bite is rare.
They are also known as bird eating spiders, though they rarely eat birds. The other name is whistling or barking spiders. The whistling refers to a sound making organ on the front of the endites. It can produce different sounds. . They are hairy spiders with strong legs and make silk lined open burrows. Tarantulas are sold as pets across Australia but they are not harmless pets. Though their bites are not fatal for humans’ care should be taken while handling them. They can render painful bites with effects like nausea and fever. Their bites are fatal for dogs and cats. There is no anti venom required or available for Tarantula bites.
White tailed Spider
They got their name from the whitish tips at the end of their abdomens. A white tail spider bite can cause Ulcers and necrosis. It can rarely cause nausea, vomiting, malaise or headache. Flesh dissolving enzymes in the venom is suspected of causing necrotic sores. There is no cure or anti venom for bites. Apart from prescribing anti biotics, usually dead skin is removed and if necessary skin grafting is done.
The biting can produce clearly visible puncture mark. Though the symptoms have no predictable pattern, sometimes it can cause burning pain at the bite area followed by blistering and ulceration. The reaction can be quick and painful with vomiting or gradual with little pain. The venom carries a bacterium which is believed to cause spread of the ulcerous sore.
Fascinating facts about spiders
How many eyes a spider have?
Most spiders have eight eyes but it can have six or fewer. Some have no eyes and others have as many as 12 eyes. Most can detect only light intensity changes, while others have well-developed vision. They usually rely on touch.
Spider cannibalism – Female spider eats male spider?
Spiders consume spiders of the same species as food. Female spider kills and eats a male spider before, during, or after copulation. Male spiders are usually smaller than female spiders. The female Australian red back spider kills the male after he inserts his second palpus in the female genital opening. Most of the females eat male after that.
Spider silk is a protein fibre
Spider silk is a protein based secretion. Stored in a lumen in abdomen glands, it is open to a narrowing duct. While passing through the duct, the resultant force eliminates water and aligns the protein ions parallel forming the silk. Spiders produce many types of silk for different purposes.
This daddy is unlikely to bite and kill you
Daddy Long Legs are the most common spiders in houses. They are the victims of the urban myth that their venom is the most potent of all spiders but their fangs are too small to penetrate human skin. It is also proven that their bite can cause only very minor irritations.
Peacock spiders are Australia’s most attractive spiders
Australia’s 29 peacock spider species which comes under the jumping spider category are the most attractive spiders in the world. They go on a dancing display to attract females during mating. If the male continues his dance when the female is not interested, she attempts to attack, kill, and feed on him