Australia is no stranger to dangerous-looking spiders. And the Redback Spider, with its trademark red stripe down the back, is one of the most feared and recognisable of them all.
But despite their reputation as deadly predators, this poses the question: are they actually a danger to humans?
Appearance – Male and Female Redbacks
To answer this question, you should first understand the difference between male and female redback spiders.
The female redback spider possesses the distinct red stripe back, while the males have a light brown colour and white markings on the upper side of their abdomen. Sometimes the shape of the red stripe is broken or the shape of an hourglass. Young, juvenile female redback spiders are typically grown with white markings, before developing their signature red stripe.
Male redback spiders are also considerably smaller than their female counterpart, measuring at 3mm – 4mm in length as opposed to the 1cm length of the female redback spider. For comparison sake, the average female redback spider is roughly the size of a large pea.
Lifecycle and Behaviour
Once again, the difference between male and female redback spiders is considerable, as they each have different roles and purposes in life.
For starters, males do not build webs, but instead go searching for a female mate. The male spider goes through a rigorous process to determine if a female candidate is ready to mate. If he’s wrong, the female will actually mistake him for prey and eat him.
Worse still, even if the male is successful, there is a chance he will still die. Why? Because he will offer his abdomen to the female’s mouthparts, so as to divert her attention and prolong the mating process, thus increasing the male’s chance of paternity and successfully procreating.
Female redback spiders can live up to 2 – 3 years and produce up to 10 egg sacs during their lifetime, where each egg sac contains around 250 eggs.
For this reason, a redback spider infestation can quickly get out of hand. If you do discover egg sacs or live redback spiders in your home, talk to a local pest control company like All Bugs for expert advice and a custom treatment plan.
Common Hiding Areas
Redback spiders are found across all parts of Australia and usually in highly populated urban areas.
Their favourite spots are dry, sheltered spaces with minimal sunlight such as sheds and garages, outdoor furniture, BBQs, garden beds, bushes, fencing; under rocks, wood piles and storage spaces, and even deep within the sub-floor or roof void.
Is it easy to identify a redback spider based on the design of their web? In some cases, yes. You may find compared to a ‘traditional’ spider web, the web of a redback spider is less tidy and uniform. You may also find loose debris like leaves. Egg sacs can also be spotted in their webs.
Are Redback Spiders Actually Dangerous?
In terms of severity, the venom of a redback spider can be painful and affect the nerves. As the pain progresses, a patient may experience a sore, numb-like sensation in the affect limb. They may also experience sweatiness, nausea and vomiting.
Fortunately, an antivenom for redback spider bites has been around for over 50 years, dating back to 1956. Since then, there has not been a single fatality from a redback spider.
What should you do if you or someone you know is bit by a redback? The most important part is to sit down, relax, and clean the bite with water and disinfectant. Apply gentle pressure to the bite with an ice pack.
Of course, if symptoms persist or worsen, seek urgent medical assistance. Your nearest medical facility will most likely have access to antivenom.
How to Prevent and Treat Redback Spiders
A general spray of insecticide around the the home is a great way to keep redback spiders at bay. You can either use store-bought products to do this, or enlist the help of a licensed pest expert to target strategic spots in and around the place for maximum results.
Although, even with the best efforts, a DIY approach may not be enough. Redback spiders are cunning enough to sneak through even the smallest gaps, cracks, and crevices. And, unless you are particularly skilled at getting around the place, you will most likely miss these crucial spots.
To increase the odds of a successful defence plan against redback spiders, enlist the help of a licensed pest control company like All Bugs. Our team will be happy to discuss your pest problem, conduct a site inspection, and give you a quote and recommended treatment plan.
Request a free, no obligation quote for redback spider pest control today. Just call (07) 3324 0111 or send your online enquiry.