Redback Spider/Pest Control Melbourne
Unlike the white-tailed spider, that has earnt itself a nasty reputation since the 1980s for reasons perhaps undeserved, the redback spider is a different case altogether. The redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) is a species of highly venomous spider believed to originate in the South Australian or adjacent Western Australian deserts, but is now found throughout Australia, Southeast Asia and New Zealand. Responsible for fatalities and serious illness, this spider often makes an appearance on “dangerous creatures” lists, earning Australia its reputation as a home of some of the world’s most threatening species.
The striking characteristics of the female redback spider are what we most commonly associate with this alarming insect: a bold, red stripe striking down the upper side of her 10 mm black abdomen, and an hourglass shaped orange streak beneath her, are unique to this species. Luckily, these markings make her easily recognisable, while her smaller male counterpart reaches only three to four mm in length, is much plainer in appearance, and isn’t venomous at all.
Coming out at night, the female redback chooses a warm, sheltered location to cast her often unruly looking web. Unfortunately, this is very often near, or inside, human homes and properties, where she preys on other spiders and small vertebrates that become ensnared in her web. The redback most commonly feeds on insects, like trapdoor spiders and fruit flies, or crustaceans such as woodlice. However, these spiders have been known to feast on small lizards, mice and even snakes!
Not for the faint-hearted, the female redback kills her prey by injecting it with venom through her two fangs, before wrapping the victim in silk and sucking out its liquefied insides. To initially immobolise its victim, the redback spider often squirts her prey with a glue-like substance that sticks its legs to the rest of its body, stopping it from escaping. She then wraps the body in silk, and bites the prey repeatedly on its head, body and leg segments before taking it back to a hidden retreat for consumption. This process can take some hours if the prey is dangerous, strong and continues to pose a threat to the redback spider, however the prey are most usually consumed in five to 20 minutes from the first bite.
As food scraps and light attract insects to areas of human occupation, this too attracts the redback; for this reason, it is vital to remove redback spiders from your property safely and professionally. The redback spider is commonly found around homes in the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and is one of the few spider species that can be seriously harmful to humans. Affecting the central and peripheral nervous system, the venom gives rise to a syndrome known as “latrodectism”. Latrodectism is a condition associated specifically with the bite of widow spiders (of which the redback is one), and starts with pain around the bite site, which usually becomes very severe and progresses up the bitten limb for over 24 hours and up to six days. Generalised symptoms of swelling, nausea, vomiting, headache, and agitation may also occur and indicate severe envenomation. Since an anti-venom was created in 1956, there have been no deaths from this species. However the systematic response to female redback spider bites is severe, painful and can cause death to animals. Should someone be bitten in your home, seek medical attention immediately, and contact Right Pest Control for the safe and professional removal of redback spiders from properties in Melbourne.