Does Australia have the world’s deadliest spiders?

Lizzy Lowe
28 March 2018
Faculty of Science and Engineering


Dr Lizzy Lowe, from the Behavioural Ecology Group in the Department of Biological Sciences, explains.

We do have a couple of very deadly spiders. We’ve got redbacks and funnel webs. And they’re actually the only two spiders in Australia that will do you any harm. The most venomous spider is in Brazil – it’s called the Brazilian wandering spider and thankfully we don’t have that here.

Are huntsman spiders dangerous?

All spiders have venom so all spiders are dangerous on some level and they can bite you. But you’ve seen how fast these guys are – they really don’t want to be anywhere near you. If you caught a huntsman and held onto it, they’d probably bite you – but they really don’t want to, they want to get as far away from you as possible.

Is the spider on my ceiling watching me at night?

Ever wondered if spiders can see in the dark? Did you know there is thought to be more than 8000 species of spiders in Australia that we don’t even know about yet?

Are daddy long legs really the most venomous spiders in the world?

These spiders aren’t actually that venomous, and even if they were, they can’t get their little fang into us anyway.

Why don’t spiders stick to their own webs?

A spider doesn’t stick to its own web because it’s got these tiny little hooks on the end of its feet, so it’s only that very end of the foot that’s connecting onto the web at each time. They actually have to put the stickiness on their web every day to make sure they can still catch their prey.

What’s the best way to capture a spider that’s in my house?

If you can’t deal with the idea of a spider living in your house, the best thing you can do is to grab a cup, put it over the top, slide a piece of paper underneath and take it outside. This is a much better technique than using pesticides because then you are introducing all sorts of chemicals into your house that don’t really need to be there. The spider is quite happy to live outside and will do a good job of eating pests outside as well.

How many species of spiders does Australia have and which are the most common?

There are more than 4000 types of spiders we know about in Australia, but there is thought to be more than 8000 additional ones that we don’t know about. The ones that live in our back gardens in Sydney include the Saint Andrew’s Cross, golden orb weaving spiders and leaf-curling spiders. All of them are great spiders to have around!

Do spiders make good pets?

Spiders make wonderful pets! I know a lot of people who keep tarantulas and they’re fascinating. Have you ever sat down and watched a spider build its big beautiful web? They use so much concentration and it’s so intricate – it’s really a fascinating thing to watch.

Can spiders see in the dark?

Many spiders are nocturnal – but some of them don’t even need to see in the dark because of their webs. They sit in the middle of their web with a leg on each of the spindles. As soon as a prey item lands in the web, it makes a vibration, and it’s actually that vibration that the spider is ‘seeing’. As soon as they feel that, they can run off and get the prey. They can actually work out how big that prey is, and what type it is, from the vibration. So, while spiders can see a little bit at night, they’re really focusing on the vibrations that surround them.


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