The urban myth that says we are never more than a metre or two away from a spider, may be just a myth, but wherever I have lived it is most certainly true! I have always had to share my house with these useful arachnids, and in any case, what is a garden without the adornment and entertainment of a silken obstacle course.
St Andrew's Cross – Argiope Keyserlingi
This delicate, beautifully marked spider can be seen hanging its orb web anywhere in the garden. It decorates the centre of its web with thick zig-zag structures, which reflect ultra-violet light to attract insects to a sticky end. The spider sits in the middle of the zig-zags with its legs aligned diagonally along them like a cross.
Orb Weaver – Eriophora biapicata
Such industry, such precision, so fascinating to watch at dusk! The Orb Weaver makes such a perfect round web, and then waits for insects to fly in and mess it up! We are often entertained over an evening meal outside in summer, as the Orb Weaver diligently makes its rounds between the verandah posts. At night the garden path is booby-trapped with orb webs, a squash racquet is a useful accessory for getting through without any unpleasant surprises.
Sydney Funnelweb – Atrax robustus
A nasty piece of work - big, ugly, aggressive and very dangerous to anyone silly enough to annoy it. The Funnelweb is classified as a primitive spider, being unable to bite without rearing its body to strike downwards with its huge fangs. Its poison can be fatal without medical treatment, but we still share the garden with it. This spider is often found apparently dead under leaves that have sunk to the bottom of the swimming pool, but it doesn’t take long for it to come back to life once out of the water.
Redback – Latrodectus hasselti
So gorgeous to look at, sleek, fine, shiny, colourful, small, but so poisonous! It is a close relative of the Black Widow spider, but more venomous. Fortunately the Redback is not aggressive towards people, only its prey. Even though Redbacks live under just about anything in the garden or the shed that we want to pick up, getting bitten takes a bit of effort, but call the ambulance if you succeed.
Huntsman – Family Sparassidae
Everyone’s worst nightmare, with its large body, long hairy legs and fast movement, the Huntsman seems to prefer living indoors rather than staying where it is supposed to be, under the bark of trees. It makes no web, is completely harmless and hunts other pests, so we really should get over our fear and share our space with it. A Huntsman’s favourite places include the curtains, behind the calendar on the 1st of the month, above the bed, on your bath towel, and even on the toilet paper roll! Best of all, they pop up on the dashboard of your car when you are in traffic with no chance of pulling over, and by the time you can pull over, the Huntsman is nowhere to be seen.
(Duration: approx. 10 minutes)