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white-tailed spider (Lampona cylindrata)

Appearance - They are generally dark red or grey with dark orange banded legs.  Younger spiders can bear two pairs of faint white spots with a white spot at the tip.  Males can grow up to 12mm and females up to 18mm.

Lifecycle

White-tailed spiders lay eggs in a disc-shaped egg sac, containing up to 90 eggs. 
They lay these sacs in dark and sheltered places where the the females guard their eggs until they hatch.

Habits

Commonly found underneath bark, rocks, leaf litter and logs in the bush and around the home and garden. 
They eat other spiders including daddy-long-legs, redbacks and black house spiders, and as such are most active at night when their prey is out hunting.  They move indoors during summer and autumn where they look for shelter in nooks and crannies, searching for prey.


Danger to humans and First Aid Procedure 


White-tailed Spider bites can cause initial burning pain followed by swelling and itchiness at the bitten area. Occasionally, there are unconfirmed reports of wheals, blistering or local ulceration - conditions known medically as necrotising arachnidism. A debate continues about the involvement of White-tailed Spider bite in cases of severe ulcerative skin lesions seen in patients diagnosed as probable spider bite victims. Typically, in such cases no direct evidence of spider bite is available. Sensational media reporting of supposed cases of severe "necrotising arachnidism" has given the White-tailed Spider a bad reputation. However, a recent study has monitored the medical outcomes of over 100 verified White-tailed Spider bites and found not a single case of ulceration (confirming the results of an earlier study). The available evidence suggests that skin ulceration is not a common outcome of White-tailed Spider bite.


Always try to keep the spider for identification purposes if you have been bitten. First aid suggestions to treat a white tailed spider bite include:

  • Apply an icepack to help relieve swelling.
  • See your doctor if the skin starts to blister or ulcerate.