Are white-tailed spiders really that dangerous?
White-tailed spider bites have some home owners concerned about the dangers to their family and pets. Whilst spiders can be a dangerous pest in Australia, is it being wrongly accused for cases of skin ulceration and necrosis?
What is necrotising arachnidism? It is a type of skin inflammation and ulceration that can follow the bite of some spiders. Occasionally, the reaction is so severe that the person loses large amounts of skin and needs extensive skin grafts. However, most people only have mild reactions. Speculation about whether white-tailed spider bites could cause necrosis was investigated in a study published in 2003. It found no evidence of necrosis in 130 confirmed cases of white-tailed spider bites.
Identification: The while-tailed spider is commonly found in homes throughout Australia. It tends to hide in bedding, or within clothes left on the floor. Most bites occur indoors, at night and in warmer months. Key features of the spider: Having a cylindrical body, being from 1-2cm in length, being dirty grey to brown in colour, having glossy legs, a light grey or white spot at the ‘tail’.
Habitat: The spider is found in and around homes throughout Australia. It tens to be more active during warmer months. It’s hiding places outdoors include beneath mulch, leaves and rocks, as well as tree bark. When it comes inside, it’s mainly found in bedding, towels, clothes etc.
Bite symptoms: The bite from a white-tailed spider can be painful, but is unlikely to cause necrosing arachnidism, a rare condition characterised by ulceration and skin loss. In most cases, the bite from this spider only causes mild reaction, including itching and skin discolouration which usually resolves after a few days.
First aid: Try to remember to keep the spider for identification purposes, if they think they have been bitten. There are no specific first aid treatment for white-tailed spider bites. Applying an ice-pack can help relieve swelling and patients should see their doctor is the skin starts to blister or ulcerate. You should not use antibiotics.
Pest control treatment for white-tailed spiders: White-tailed spiders prey on other species (such as the black house spiderUpload Files), and may help to control the population of other venomous spiders. Therefore, an effective program for white-tailed spiders really needs to address all the other types of spiders that may be present in the home, as the white-tailed spiders will see them as prey and invade looking for food. As such the best pest control method is to control all the spiders in the home. A comprehensive exterior surface spray targeting spider hiding spaces and creating a perimeter treated zone, with a product such as Biflex, should be the cornerstone of any spider treatment.