Funnel-web spiders on the rise in Sydney
Unusually high number of deadly arachnids causes alarm in Australia.
Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 01:59 PM
We all know Australia is home to some of the most dangerous spiders in the world. What's news to many is that one of those species, the funnel-web spider, is invading Sydney and its surroundings. According to an article in The Independent, this spider's bite can kill a human within two hours. Residents are encouraged to drop off any captured spiders at a reptile park near the capital where researchers will milk the spiders of their venom to make antidotes.
Several people have been bitten by the spiders, but no one has died (recently) from a funnel-web spider bite. These bites can lead to vomiting, convulsions, and difficulty breathing and require fast action to administer the anti-venom. Because of the severity of the spider venom, the general manager of the Australian Reptile Park, Mary Rayner, advises people, particularly children, to always check their shoes and to avoid walking around barefoot. Residents are warned to watch for the spiders in moist, dark places where the spiders tend to "rear up and bare their fangs" when their webs are disturbed.
According to the article, the park has "received more than 40 males in recent weeks." This is alarming because the male spider is deadlier than the female. Experts claim unusual weather patterns led to the abundance of the funnel-webs, citing a longer-than-usual dry period followed by rainy, humid weather. Rayner told The Independent that the spiders responded to the warm, wet weather.
Other specialists, including Rex Gilroy, who runs a dangerous spiders hotline in the area, are blaming climate change for the longer breeding season and increased activity in the spiders. The article quotes Gilroy's disheartening prediction: "[The numbers] are definitely up from the previous year, and I think it's not going to get any better."