White Tailed Spider
Family: Lamponidae (White-Tailed Spiders, 200 described species in 23 genera, mostly endemic to Australia)
Size: Body up to 18 mm, leg span up to 28 mm.
Distribution: White-tailed spiders are spiders native to southern and eastern Australia.
Danger: I'm pretty sure I was bitten by a while-tailed spider once. I found one in my bed, and at that time I had a large welt on my leg, kind of like a mosquito bite but about 1 inch (2.5 centimetres) across, and much more itchy than a mosquito bite. I forget exactly how long it stayed there, I think about 1-2 weeks. I was living in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney at the time.
Many sources state that the urban myth of white-tailed spiders rotting flesh is just a myth and has never been substantiated. A video at the Australian Museum talked about several cases where roting flesh and other very nasty symptoms that were originally blamed on white-tailed spiders were later found to be something else entirely, likea golden staph infection for example.
Note that dead spiders usually fade in colour, so nearly all the spiders will look blacker or darker in colour in real life than they do in the photos of dead spiders from the museum.
Photo taken at Australian Museum, Sydney. High Resolution 3232 x 2040.
A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia, by Robert Whyte and Greg Anderson.
This is my favourite field guide to Australian spiders. It has a proper index. It has amazing photographs. If I had to find a weak point of it, it would be that there are so many photos that there is less writing than there could have been. I like photos though so it's all good. 464 pages.
From the publisher, "A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia uses photographs of live animals to enable identification of commonly encountered spiders to the family level and, in some cases, to genus and species. Featuring over 1300 colour photographs, it is the most comprehensive account of Australian spiders ever published. With more than two-thirds of Australian spiders yet to be scientifically described, this book sets the scene for future explorations of our extraordinary Australian fauna."
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