Great Lakes residents are being urged to take care around their homes, and at parks and grass areas around the Mid North Coast.
It is likely that you will notice holes in the grass or in trees and logs, which often house the deadly funnel web spider.
Funnel webs make their burrows in moist, cool, sheltered habitats, like under rocks, in and under rotting logs, some in rough-barked trees. They can be found in higher numbers around koala corridors.
They are commonly found in suburban rockeries and shrubberies, in lawns or other open terrain. A funnel web's burrow characteristically has irregular silk trip-lines radiating from the entrance to trap prey.
Unlike some related trapdoor spiders, funnel webs do not build lids to their burrows, which is another telltale sign when identifying a spider hole.
Redback spiders are also common at this time of the year.
Spider bites are best considered in three medically relevant groups: big black spiders, redback spiders and all other spiders.
Patients bitten by big black spiders must be managed as a medical emergency.
Redback spiders are fairly easy to identify and their bites do not cause rapidly developing or life-threatening effects but many cause significant pain and systemic effects.
All other spiders in Australia are more or less harmless.
In January this year an Elands woman was taken to Manning hospital with a suspected funnel web bite and last April a Wherrol Flat man was bitten while cleaning up his driveway, resulting in him spending the night in intensive care at Manning hospital.
Sydney funnel-web spiders are not seen this far north, meaning he was most probably bitten by a southern tree funnel-web spider, which is still one of the most dangerous spiders in the world.
There are 40 different types of funnel web spiders located up and down the East Coast.
What to do if bitten
First aid for funnel-web spider bites is the same as for snake bite.
Application of a compression bandage and immobilisation of the affected limb is important.
To apply a compression bandage for a spider or snake bite wrap the bandage, as firmly as you would for a sprained ankle, beginning at the site of the bite and working up the entire limb.
A rigid splint should be used to stop the limb from moving.
Symptoms begin 15-20 minutes after being bitten.
Seek immediate medical attention and, if possible, keep the spider for identification purposes.
Identifying funnel-web spiders
- Shiny carapace.
- Deeply curved groove.
- No obvious body pattern.
- Eyes closely grouped.
- Four spinnerets, largest with last segment longer than wide.
- Lower lip studded with short, blunt spines.
- Modified male second leg (usually with a mating spur or grouped spines).
- Mouse spiders are often mistaken for funnel-web spiders as they look very similar. Mouse spiders have bulbous head and jaws (wider than a funnel-web) and shorter spinnerets.
(from the Australian Museum website)
For more information about funnel web spiders visit www.australianmuseum.net.au/funnel-web-spiders-group.