Spiders have 8 legs whilst insects have only 6. Insects have 3 distinct body parts, a head, thorax and abdomen whilst spiders have just 2 and a combined head and thorax. Other differences are the eyes. Spiders have simple eyes whilst insects have compound eyes. Spiders have piercing jaws and insects have jaws which are more suitable for chewing. All spiders can make silk thread (although not all spiders spin webs. Spiders can’t fly but insects can.
These are the most common types of spiders:
The Wolf Spider is quite large, measuring about 25mm. There are about 130 species of wolf spiders in Australia. Most of these live in leaf matter or in shallow burrows. They are hunters and are a hardy and fast moving spider. Mostly they will be found in the gardens of suburbia.
Wolf spiders have 8 eyes. Four large eyes positioned in a square on top of their head and 4 small eyes in a line at the front. They are well camouflaged, which is very helpful for hunting.
Wolf spiders are not deadly but if bitten you may experience some swelling, pain and itching.
The Red Back is closely related to the Black Widow spider. It is also the most recognisable spider in Australia. They are located in the southern parts of Australia and in Tasmania. Red backs thrive in dry areas such a fence capping, gas and electrical meter boxes, in bush areas and stored boxes. They are even found in machinery, empty cans, rubbish bins and dark areas such as under housing and roofs.
They mainly feed on other insects that are trapped in their sticky webs.
They are also known for eating small mice, lizards and frogs.
The female red back has a large abdomen, the body size can be as big as a large pea. The female is the most venomous.
The female has a distinctive red mark on the back, but some do not.
She can grow up to 15mm long, and the males are much smaller, approximately 5mm long.
The female can live up to 3 years, and the male about 6 months.
The female red back takes about 2-3 months to mature and can lay up to 8 egg sacks in as little as 8 months. Each egg sack contains about 200 – 300 eggs.
The side effects of bites can be quite severe. Symptoms can range from:
- Muscle spasms
Bites can be very painful. Do not bandage the bite. It is best to ice the area and take pain medication, and also seek medical attention.
Daddy Long Legs
The Daddy Long leg is a small spider, but it has very long legs that are approximately 50mm long. It is one of the most common spiders in Australia. They like to nest in corners of ceilings, under houses, garages, and behind furniture. These spiders build a messy web in sheltered undisturbed areas. When threatened this spider bounces around in a circular motion. This is a defence mechanism they will use to deter predators. If attacked, they will remove a limb to get away from the predator. Its main diet is insects and other spiders. The daddy long legs will wait for its prey to get close so it is able to be stunned. It does this by pouncing and then biting.
The Huntsman is a large spider. These species can measure up to 15cm from leg to leg. Being large spiders they are fast movers. They are hairy with long leg, have 8 eyes and a flat body, which allows them to hide in tight areas. On their abdomen is a black stripe. These spiders mainly eat other insects and often wander into people’s homes. The female can lay up to 200 eggs. Bites can be very painful. It is best to ice the area and take pain medication. Seek medical attention if pain continues.
Black House Spider
This spider is found across Australia. It is found mainly in gardens, corners of windows and walls, door frames and on tree trunks. The size of an adult is about 18mm long. These spiders spin tangled webs much like a funnel shape, and they are often confused with the Funnel web spider as they are very similar. The main difference between the two is the Black House spider builds its nest up high, while the Funnel Web likes to nest on or below ground level. It mainly eats small prey that has been caught it its web, but the Black house spider is the most preferred prey for the White tail spider. The Black House spider is venomous. If bitten, symptoms can include vomiting, sweating, pain around the bite and headaches. Ice the bite and if pain persists seek medical advice.
White Tail Spider
White Tail spiders are commonly found in homes around Australia.
They like to hide in bedding and clothes piled on the floor for long periods, in mulch and rocks, and also in cracks and crevices.
They have a cylinder shaped body 1-2 cm long, are dark grey in colour and have shiny legs. Their tale has white or grey spots on it.
The bite of a White tailed spider can cause mild irritation and skin discolouration. This will usually dissipate after about 2 weeks. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, swelling, itchiness, and blistering at the site of the bite. You can ice the bite and if pain persists or the skin starts to blister seek medical attention.
The Mouse spider is found throughout Australia, with Tasmania as an exception, and is often mistaken for the Funnel web spider.
The average size is about 30mm long. They have eight small eyes like the Huntsman, and large fangs. Females are black in colour and the males can be either black or dark blue. These spiders are similar to the Trap door spider, as they hunt in a similar way. They both burrow and wait for lingerers to pass the trapdoor, which they construct at the entrance. Once the prey is close enough they then pounce. The female mouse spider spends most of their life in their burrows hunting and rarely seen. They are also highly venomous. If bitten seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The images below are just a few common household spiders found inWestern Australian homes.
Photo's courtesy & copyright http://www.padil.gov.au