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Is it a Spider Bite?

White-tailed and Wolf spiders

White-tailed spiders and Wolf spiders have long been blamed for necrotizing arachnidism. This is a condition where ulcerative lesions around a bite sitre can eat away at the tissue until bone is exposed. Recent studies suggest that the white tailed spider may have been wrongly accused.

Bites from the white-tailed spiders are common because they inhabit houses and are frequently found in living areas and bedrooms. They can bite readily if threatened but the venom is weak (on biochemical analysis) and any undesirable effects are short lived. The wolf spider, however, lives in the soil outside and has been responsible for bites that have developed into necrotizing arachnidism.

The culprit is not actually the spiders venom but a bacterium on the spiders fangs called mycobacterium ulcerans. The bacterium can be found in the soil and infects people when they are bitten by the spider. So, the spider is actually just a mode of transport carrying the nasty bacteria into the flesh of victims. Any spider living in the soil could, therefore be a vector of transmission. White-tailed and huntsmen spiders are found mainly indoors but can be found outdoors under the bark of trees and under rocks.

Funnel Webs

There is a species of funnel web spider found only in the dandenong ranges. Fortunately, it is not as deadly as its Sydney relative. However, it may pose problems for cats, dogs and infants. Symptoms of evenomation include intense pain at the bite site, swelling, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Sometimes, muscle tremors and vomiting can occur. Funnel webs build funnel shaped covered webs over visible holes in the ground. They have large fangs and large black bodies. Their ground holes are commonly seen but the spider itself is rarely sighted.