Red-back spider numbers booming in Queensland's south-east
Redback spiders are booming in number in Queensland's south-east, with the senior curator of spiders at the Queensland Museum warning people to be on the lookout.
Arachnologist Dr Robert Raven said it was still early in the red-back spider season but he had already seen a surge in numbers, and reports to his office of three or four people being bitten each week.
Red-back spider is venomous and has an agonising bite
Bite particularly dangerous for those who are diabetic or asthmatic
Toys, furniture left outside prime target for spider nests
"We are fairly early in the season and a lot of spiders that we haven't seen for about three or four years at least or possibly more are now appearing as young in the area near Brisbane and the coast, which appears to suggest it's going to be a bumper year," Dr Raven said.
"There's lot of spiders out there and they're certainly cranking up in number."
Dr Raven started studying spiders 41 years ago to manage his fear of them.
He warns the red-back spider is venomous and has an agonising bite, and people need to be aware of the dangers around public fences, car parks, sporting arenas, bus stops and outdoor furniture.
"The danger with the red-back is you will get caught somewhere where you weren't expecting to get bitten," he said.
"In one case we had a lady who was busily ripping grass out from underneath a fence and she was getting nailed by green ants really hard, and she wasn't noticing ... that she was also getting bitten by red-backs.
"And it was a crescendo of pain ? they took her to hospital and she ended up getting seven ampoules of anti-venom.
"It was a pretty angry spider and she was obviously working right into the nest.
"In that kind of situation where you get multiple hits then the pain crescendo can be very bad and of course with people who are diabetic or asthmatic it's even worse.
"And with young children ? the big danger with these things is that all those toys that are left outside in the sun near the sand pits ? those are prime targets."
He said the best remedy was to get the home professionally treated to prevent infestations.
'Don't put your hands where you can't see'
Dr Raven said red-back webs were relatively easy to identify as they were the only spider that tolerates rubbish in their web, such as pieces of plastic, paper and leaves.
"We had situations where a couple were lying on the bed with their baby between them and a red-back fell down onto the pillow between them," he said.
"So there are lots of situations which are really blind, in that you certainly don't expect it.
"Of course outdoor furniture is great because those lovely curled over chairs, they get nice and hot, the spiders can't be seen, you put your hand underneath them to move them and bang, you get bitten.
"The thing with a red-back bite is that the bite action is all local and one of the good signs of a red-back bite is the little localised patches of sweating.
"Once you get the right dose of anti-venom the whole thing is over within an hour they still don't know why it works they just know it does."
Dr Raven said people need to be aware.
"They need to be conscious that the tips of their fingers are the most sensitive parts of them, and where are you putting your hands, that's the critical thing ? don't put your hands where you can't see. That's a critical rule," he said.
"Especially where there's heat a lot of the day, so north facing and west facing locations, they're very hot and dry situations, that's the one that the red-back loves."
Source: ABC News