A funnel-web spider
A funnel-web spider

Funnel-webs moving into Clarence

AN entomologist with a life-long interest in spiders has warned Clarence Valley residents to be on the alert for the deadly Northern Rivers funnel-web spider.

Rex Gilroy, a Katoomba Rotary Club member with 52 years experience with spiders, said he had received more calls than ever before this summer from Clarence Valley residents reporting funnel-web spiders.

He said one farmer from north of Grafton had rung in the past week, saying that after he put on his boot he felt something moving around his leg. When he looked down he saw a funnel-web.

“I’ve had about 15 phone calls from people from your area in the past few weeks,” he said.

He said that with climate change, an increase in funnel-web spider numbers was a possibility.

According to the Queensland Museum, features of a funnel-web include a shiny black head, closely grouped eyes, spinnerets are short but project noticeably past the body like short fingers, legs moderately long, body black or dark plum without any pattern or substantial relief in colour. Often, large well-fed females may have a lighter body colour due to distension and stretching of the skin. Alone, the head or body of a female funnel-web spider can cover a 50 cent coin; the legs easily span the width of an adult hand.

The museum advises that if bitten, keep calm and move only when needed. The venom must be immobilised and medical aid sought. If a limb is bitten, apply a broad bandage (crepe is best) firmly to the bitten area and just below it, then firmly apply the bandage up the length of the limb towards the heart. Then apply a wooden splint to immobilise the limb. The victim should then be taken to medical aid. The pressure bandage should be removed only under medical supervision. If insufficient cloth is available for the procedure, a tourniquet may be adequate.

Mr Gilroy said his club had produced a dangerous spiders booklet. It included photos of spiders found around the home, their stories and habits and advice to parents to teach young children about spider danger. It also contains information about preventing spiders entering the home, and first-aid procedures.

Get the booklet by sending a cheque or money order for $10 to the Rotary Club of Katoomba, PO Box 54, Katoomba, 2780.

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