Pest Information

Identifying the Most Common Spiders in Sydney

Even though they play an important role in the environment, no one wants a house full of spiders.

But because Australia is home to around 2,400 different species of them, you’re likely to end up with a few in your home sooner or later. Thankfully, only 50 or so of these species are harmful to humans. If you aren’t familiar with them, though, how can you tell if the spider in the corner is safe to handle?

Read on to learn about some of the most common spiders in Sydney, how dangerous they are, and how to identify them if you see one in your home. 

Black House Spider

Scientific name: Badumna insignis

Danger Rating: 1/5

Black House Spider
The black house spider, also known as the window spider, can be found all over southeastern Australia. They’re mostly dark brown or black in colour, though their abdomen can be dark grey with faint white markings. They range in size from 9-18 mm with females being about twice the size of males.

These spiders like to make their homes in the crevices of tree trunks and rocks but will also move into window frames, gutters, and cracks in walls. Their webs are somewhat funnel-like in appearance, but don’t mistake them for funnel spiders—black house spiders don’t burrow in the ground or disguise their webs with debris.

While black house spiders are technically poisonous, they aren’t deadly or aggressive. Their bite will leave you feeling uncomfortable, though, and you may end up with nausea, swelling, and pain in the bite for around 24 hours. If the pain persists or you start to notice any blistering at the wound site, seek medical treatment. 

Huntsman Spider

Scientific name: Family Sparassidae

Danger Rating: 2/5

Huntsman spider
The common huntsman spider is actually a group of over 100 similar spiders in the Sparassidae family. With hairy bodies and legs that span up to 16 cm, they cut an imposing figure, but don’t worry—they aren’t as dangerous as they appear.

Aside from its size, you can identify a huntsman spider by its elongated front legs, flattened body shape, brown, white, and black markings, and crab-like walk. They prefer to live in small cracks between rocks or underneath tree bark, coming out at night to hunt. They’re notorious for hiding in small, dark places in your house or car and giving you quite a shock when you move the object they were behind.

If you’re bitten by a huntsman spider, don’t panic. Their bites can be quite painful but aren’t toxic. 

Garden Orb-Weaving Spider

Scientific name: Eriophora sp.

Danger Rating: 2/5

Garden Orb Spider
Like huntsman spiders, garden orb-weaving spiders are a genus that contains around 100 different species. These little spiders like to hang out on leaves during the day, and as such often have reddish-brown or grey leaf-like markings on their abdomen to blend in.

You can identify a garden orb spider by its two characteristic humps near the front of its triangular abdomen. They range in size from 1.5-3 cm, with females being larger than males. Even if you don’t see the spider itself, you might recognize its delicate orb-shaped webs hanging between shrubs or tree branches.

These spiders aren’t aggressive and prefer to stay outdoors for the most part. If you are bitten by one in your home, though, there’s no need to worry. You might experience some pain, numbness, and swelling for a while, but it will go away on its own. 

White-Tail Spider

Scientific name: Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina

Danger Rating: 3/5

White Tail Spider
The white-tail spider is elongated in appearance. They have a reddish-grey abdomen with two pairs of light-coloured spots and a characteristic white marking on the back tip. They’re 12-18 mm in size and aren’t picky about where they live, feeling equally at home in outdoor and urban environments.

These spiders aren’t aggressive to humans—in fact, having one or two around may be beneficial as they prey on other spiders. If you want to avoid a bite, shake out any blankets or clothing when you pick them up as they often hide between folds of fabric.

For years the white-tail spider has been associated with dangerous skin ulcers and tissue necrosis. However, research shows that this association is likely false. While their bites are very painful and often react like a bee sting, they don’t cause tissue destruction and aren’t fatal. 

Redback Spider

Scientific name: Latrodectus hasselti

Danger Rating: 4/5

Redback Spider
This relative of the famed black widow spider is easily identifiable by the bright red dorsal stripe across its dark brown or black abdomen. They grow up to 5-15 mm and have long, spindly legs, a small head, and a large, round abdominal region. Males may be a lighter colour and have less distinct markings than females.

Because redback spiders prefer to set up camp in dark, sheltered environments, they’re often found living in close proximity to humans. You’re most likely to stumble across one in your shed or landscaping.

These spiders will eat not only insects but skinks, small frogs, and baby mice as well. Their triangular webs are sticky enough to trap even large prey.

If you’re bitten by a redback, seek medical help. Their bites cause intense pain, nausea and vomiting, weakness, and sometimes convulsions. They aren’t often fatal to healthy adults, but children, pregnant women, and the elderly are at risk. 

Funnel-Web Spider

Scientific name: Atrax robustus

Danger Rating: 5/5

Funnel Web Spider
These fairly small spiders, clocking in at 25-35 mm, are the most dangerous on the list. They have shiny, dark brown to black colouration, hairy legs, and prominent spinnerets.

Funnel-web spiders burrow in the ground and spin tube-shaped webs to trap their prey. These webs are often disguised with plant detritus and are hard to see at first glance. They make their homes in dark, damp locations, so keep an eye out for them in gardens and around pools.

These spiders are aggressive and will show off their fangs if they feel threatened. Their bites can be fatal to humans, so if you find them in or around your home, do NOT try to handle them yourself. Leave the area and call a pest removal service right away.

If you’re bitten by a funnel-web spider, get medical help immediately. 

QUIZ: How well do you know your local pests? Take our Quiz and find out. 

Getting Rid of These Common Spiders From Your Home

Have you found one (or a few) of these common spiders making webs in your house? Whether it’s one with a low danger rating or a potentially deadly funnel spider, it’s best to keep your safety in mind and call a professional to take care of the problem.

Since Forensic Pest Management Services opened 17 years ago, we’ve successfully cleared all types of spiders and other pests from homes across Sydney. Contact us online or give us a call today to arrange an inspection.

Chris Taylor

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