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Autumn Pest Spotlight: Redback Spiders

Redback spiders have a highly venomous bite and are considered one of the most dangerous spiders in New Zealand.

The Australian redback spider was introduced to New Zealand in the 1980s via steel shipments. Unfortunately, the redback has since been a pest to humans and the endangered beetle species, Cromwell chafer beetle, particularly in the Central Otago region. In the home, it is most commonly found in garages, letter boxes, sheds, underneath outdoor furniture.

Redback spiders normally have a distinct red stripe on their back and vary in size, with the female being larger than the male. Not all redback spiders have the distinct red mark as the males are often brown with a distinctive white marking.

Why is a redback spider bite so dangerous?

The venom of a redback spider bite is like funnel-web spider venom, and even a small dose can cause intense pain. However, not all redback spider bites will contain venom. If feeling threatened, a redback spider will sometimes provide a warning bite.

From 2001 till 2013, spiders caused 11,994 hospitalisations in Australia. Thankfully, there have been zero deaths related to redback spider bites since the introduction of redback antivenom in 1956.

What are redback spider bite symptoms?

After a redback spider bite, symptoms may not be felt immediately. It’s common to only feel mild discomfort or irritation. However, as time passes, indicative symptoms begin to appear, like:

  • Headache, vomiting, lethargy, hair standing on ends, and nausea;
  • Intense sweating;
  • Localised and persistent pain (begins to spread after an hour or two);
  • Swelling at bite site;
  • Abdominal or chest pain; and in severe cases
  • Paralysis and death.

Again, there are no records of death by redback spider bite since anti-venom was created.

How do I treat a redback spider bite?

Seek medical advice immediately.  If you are not sure who to call, dial 111.

How do I get rid of redback spiders?

We recommend calling a trusted pest controller who can provide spider control treatments designed to last for several months. For a free quote, call Flick Anticimex at 0800 101 969.

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