WHITE TAILED SPIDER (Lampona cylindrata)
The white tailed spider has been found in Australia for many years. The spider is easily identified by its elongated shape (1-2.5cm body length), cylindrical lemon pip shaped abdomen and is velvety black with dirty white markings at the top of the abdomen and on the tip of the tail. The legs are glossy with a dark reddish tint. Male spiders have striped legs.
WHERE ARE THEY FOUND?
There are about a dozen Australian species in the genus. This common spider when found indoors, inhabits wardrobes, clothes left on the floor, bedclothes, bathrooms, laundries and behind curtains. It is normally nomadic, living in the garden under rocks, ground litter and other foliage and most active at night, living off small insects and spiders.
Their nomadic nature leads them into homes where they are most commonly found during Spring to late Autumn. White tailed spiders aren't web bound and catch their prey by predation. Being hunters, they are swift moving and scurry away when disturbed.
DO THEY BITE?
White tailed spiders only bite if provoked and are not normally aggressive to humans. The symptoms of the spider bite vary according to specific reactions, normally causing a localised burning, stinging feeling followed by a variable illness. Symptoms may include an itchy lump, swelling, blistering, ulceration, nausea or vomiting. Occasionally the bacteria on the fangs of the spider may cause infection or other specific allergic reactions.
The spider is suspected of causing skin necrosis, (the decomposition of flesh) in 14 spider bites over the past 10 years. However, until recently, none of the victims could positively identify what bit them.
A woman from Jericho in Tasmania claims as a result of a white tailed spider bite she suffered skin damage to her right leg. Many people have been bitten by white tailed spiders and suffered minimal skin reactions, if any.
Common sense in the home is the best way to avoid spider bites. Be able to correctly identify the white tailed spider and be aware of the places they like to hide. Because the spiders are more active at night, do not leave clothes on the floor and shake them before putting them on. Check bed clothes before retiring for the night. Spiders can easily be removed into a glass jar and placed outside or sprayed with an insecticide for spider control.
If bitten by a white tailed spider the wound should be washed with disinfectant, and if painful an ice pack or anaesthetic cream applied. Try to find and keep the spider responsible for the bite for future identification. Seek medical attention should the patient not improve in 2-3 hours. The Association wishes to place on record its appreciation for assistance provided by the Division of Natural History, Museum of Victoria in the preparation of this information.
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