How do white tail spiders look ?
White-tailed spiders are a type of spiders that can be found in the eastern and southern parts of Australia. They are medium sized. They are called white-tailed spiders because of the presence of a white colored mark at the end-tips of their abdomens.
The Lampona murina and the Lampona cylindrata are the two most common species of white-tailed spiders. Both these types of white-tailed spiders have been released in New Zealand.
White-tailed spiders tend to roam about to find and hunt their prey and generally do not indulge in spinning a web to catch victims. They are poisonous spiders and normally prey on other spiders.
White-tailed spiders are known for biting humans. White-tailed spider bites can result in a number of symptoms such as local swelling and pain, a reddish mark and irritation or itchiness. On occasions, there may be other signs such as headaches, general malaise, nausea and vomiting. Necrosis and ulcer development were believed to be caused by white-tailed spider bites. However, a study by Gray and Isbister in 2003 has proved otherwise.
The two most common species of white-tailed spiders, i.e. the Lampona murina and the Lampona cylindrata tend to look alike. However, the Lampona cylindrata is somewhat larger than the other, with the males growing up to a length of about 12 mm and the females growing up to 18 mm in full body length. The diametrical span of the legs is about 28 mm.
Both the common species of white-tailed spider require observation under a microscope for clear differentiation. Both of them are slim spiders with an elongated body that is either gray or dark reddish in color. The legs have dark orange-brown bands on them. There are two light white spots on the grey abdomen, along with a striking white spot at the tip present just above the web spinning organ of the spiders.
Since both the species of the white-tailed spider have similar features, most people believe that there is only one species. It is also believed that all the species of the white-tailed spider are yet to be identified. However, all the spiders that have the unique white tip at the end of their abdomens are considered as white-tailed spiders. The other distinguishing features may be present at birth, but generally disappear with growth and shedding. The white tip or the white tail, however, remains for the lifetime of the spider. The Lampona cylindrata species of white-tailed spider lays pink colored eggs that are covered by a flattened silk case and protected by the female till they hatch.
White-tailed spiders can be found to live inside homes and in gardens, in clusters of leaves, under rocks and below tree barks. They can also be seen in the creases of shoes, clothes and towels.
White-tailed spiders do not spin webs. The ends of their legs have special hairs that allow them to walk even on a glass surface. They are generally nocturnal creatures and often hunt for other spiders during nighttime. The black house spider is their preferred prey.
White-tailed spider bites on humans
White-tailed spiders do not make a web and tend to roam around in homes and other places. Hence, they may be accidently encountered by humans, usually on the beds, clothing or towels. Due to their wandering nature, the cases of white-tailed spider bites far outnumber bites by other species of spider in Australia. A study conducted to verify the instances of white-tailed spider bites has revealed that nearly sixty percent of the spider bite cases in Australia have been caused by white-tailed spiders.
Symptoms of white-tail spider bite
Some of the signs and symptoms of white-tailed spider bites are listed below:
- The spiders generally tend to bite at the arms or the legs. Hence, white-tailed spider bites can be seen in such areas.
- A white-tailed spider bite may result in local redness, along with some swelling, pain and itchiness at the affected area. The pain does not last for a long period and usually subsides quite quickly.
- A red bump may sometimes form at the affected spot. When a victim indulges in scratching to reduce the itching, then the skin may tear away and leave it vulnerable to secondary infections by bacteria and other organisms.
- In some cases, individuals affected by white-tailed spider bites may experience nausea, vomiting, headaches and symptoms of being sick or unwell. Most of the symptoms of a white-tailed spider bite disappear on their own.
- It should be noted that white-tailed spiders posses weak venom. Hence, unlike the popular belief that white-tailed spider bites can cause ulcers and skin damage, the bite actually does not result in such symptoms
White tail spider bite treatment
- White-tailed spider bites generally do not result in any medical complications.
- In case of a white-tailed spider bite, one can wash the affected site with soap and water. Application of an ice pack will help alleviate the itching.
- Pain killer medications available over the counter can reduce the pain. Topical corticosteroids may be used to ease swelling and inflammation.
- In case of serious symptoms like being unwell for prolonged periods, discoloration or development of blisters, etc., one may visit a doctor for treatment.
White tail spider bite pictures