This is one of the most feared spiders in Australia and is the cause of some hysteria. But while many people believe White-tailed Spiders venom to be very toxic, there is little evidence to support this and reactions to bites range from no reaction at all to local blistering.
Juveniles and adult males have a pattern of white marks on the abdomen, but females have a single white spot which fades with age.
The female constructs a circular white egg sac about 10mm in diameter, which contains 50-100 pink eggs. The spiderlings emerge after two months and remain close to their mother for about a week, living under a communal sheet web. They then disperse and prey on insects and other spiders, particularly the Black House Spider. White-tailed Spiders are vagrants and do not build a web of their own, catching prey as they wander at night. During the day they hide under bark or rocks, or behind cupboards and under furniture in houses.
This species is generally slow moving but can run rapidly when disturbed. They are active at night.
Found in woodlands and suburban areas.
Bites from this species are relatively common, due to their habit of wandering inside houses and hiding during the day in shoes, clothing and bedding. Symptoms may include local blistering around the bite site and nausea.
All states and territories.
Male body length: 15mm
Female body length: 18mm
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