Spider bites – Should I be worried and what should I do?

Updated: Apr 9

Spiders can be scary (not only for arachnophobes). However, in most cases, this fear of spiders is an innate fear and is actually triggered by the “legginess” of the spider, as well as its sudden movement, speed and hairiness. Nevertheless, although uncommon, getting bitten by a spider can be a very unpleasant experience and the bites of some Australian spiders may need some medical treatment.

Black house spider
Black house spider

The black house spider is probably one of the most common web-building spiders found around the home. It is a very timid spider and will scuttle back into its hiding place when disturbed.

Symptoms: Bite can be quite painful with local swelling. Occasionally patients may develop nausea, dizziness and sweating.

Treatment: Standard spider bite treatment (see below)

Redback  Spider
Redback Spider

The redback is perhaps the most well-known dangerous Australian spider. It tends to build its rather tangled webs in sheltered areas; under rocks and logs, in the tubular fencing around pools, under garden furniture and BBQs, in downlights and of course in the outside dunny! The female redback (the one with the red stripe) can be quite aggressive, but in reality, bites only generally occur by accident when fingers (or other parts of the anatomy!) are inserted into the spider’s hiding place by mistake. There are approximately 2000 confirmed redback spider bites each year.

Symptoms: Pain, which can become severe and last several days. Sweating, including sweating at the site of the bite, muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting

Treatment: Follow standard spider bite treatment (see below) and then seek medical attention. An antivenom is available.

Huntsman spider
Huntsman spider

There are a large number of huntsman spiders and although they are large and quick-moving, they are generally very timid, except for female spiders when they are guarding their egg sacs. They will prefer to run away, rather than bite.

Symptoms: Mild local pain

Treatment: Follow standard spider bite treatment (see below).

White-tail spider
White-tail spider

Bites from the white-tail spider commonly occur indoors when the spider has crawled into sheets or clothing left on the floor. The supposed flesh-eating properties of the white-tail spider bite is actually an urban myth. There is no chemical in the white-tail spider venom that can eat flesh and in a scientific study of over 130 confir