Spiders commonly found in Australia

Includes Huntsman, Black Widow, Orb weaving, trapdoor, wolf and jumping spiders.

  •  Huntsman (Isopeda sp., Neosparassus sp.) 

    Huntsman spider (Photo by David McClenaghan, CSIRO)

    Common huntsmen (Family Sparassidae) frequently enter houses at night.  They do not build a web, but hunt for insects.  They are large, fast moving spiders, but are not considered aggressive.  Bites may result in local symptoms, usually pain and swelling.  Shield huntsman (Neosparassus sp.) less frequently enter houses. Their bite may also  cause local problems as well as sweating, nausea and vomiting.

    female huntsman spider

    Huntsman spider (Isopeda sp female)
    (Photo A. Neboiss ©Museum Victoria)

  • Black window spider (black house spider) (Badumna sp.) 

    black house spider

    Black house spider (Badumna insignis)
    (Photo R. Mascord)

    Named for its habit of building untidy looking webs at the corners of windows, doors and crevices, this spider produces venom that may cause local pain, nausea, vomiting and sweating.  It has also been associated with at least one case of skin ulceration and necrosis.  Bites are not frequently reported, possibly due to the relatively nondescript all black appearance of this spider (as compared with the redback spider or the white tailed spider, for example).

    web of black house spider

    Black house or black window spiders ( Badumna sp.), are also commonly encountered in Australian homes, where they build lacy, untidy looking webs in the corners of windows or around houses.  These spiders have been implicated in at least one case of significant tissue necrosis and also in a case of systemic illness.  Again, it is unknown whether the male and female are equally dangerous.

    black window spider

    Black window spider (Badumna insignis)
    (Photo R.Raven)

  • Brown house spider (cupboard spider) (Steatoda sp.) 

    This spider is a relative of the redback spider, which it resembles in size and body shape, but not in coloration.  It is often found under furniture or in other dark places inside houses.  It is very common in urban gardens.  Bites from this spider may cause headache, nausea and small localized skin blisters.  It has also been identified in at least two cases of redback like envenomations, which appeared to improve after the administration of redback spider antivenom.  It is possible that some presumed redback spider bite presentations to doctors may in fact be caused by Steatoda spiders.

  • Orb weaving spiders (Multiple species) 

    Argriope spider

    Argiope aethera female
    (Photo R. Mascord)

    Orb weavers are a diverse group of spiders encompassing many genera and species.  They characteristically  build rounded webs, sometimes quite large, to catch nocturnal flying insect prey.  Bites may occur when people walk into the webs accidentally. The bites may produce local pain and swelling, nausea and dizziness.

    Nephila spider

    Nephila maculata female
    (Photo R.Mascord)

    Araneus spider

    Araneus transmarinus female
    (Photo R. Mascord)

  • Trapdoor spiders (Multiple species) 

    trapdoor spider

    Trapdoor spider
    (Photo G. Milledge, ©Museum Victoria)

    Trapdoor spiders superficially resemble funnel web spiders, but have not been associated with any significant systemic illnesses.  The may be bite painful, however,  due to the large size of the fangs.  Like funnel web spiders, they live in burrows, often with a trapdoor entrance, from which they ambush prey.  Also like funnel webs, males leave the burrows to roam in search of a mate, and may enter houses in the autumn for this reason.

  • Wolf spiders (Lycosa sp.)

    wolf spider

    These hunting spiders do not build webs, but actively hunt their prey of small arthropods.  Some live in burrows, while others are free ranging.  The female carries the egg sac with her, attached with silk to her spinnerets, and after the spiderlings hatch, they are carried around on her abdomen until able to look after themselves.  Local pain and swelling have been reported after bites from this spider.  One case of suspected necrotising arachnidism was circumstantially associated with a wolf spider, but good evidence for their involvement in this condition is lacking.

    wolf spider

    wolf spider

  • Daddy long legs (Pholcus phalangioides) 

    daddy long legs

    Pholcus phalangioides (female) with egg sac.
    (Photo R. Mascord)

    This spider is commonly found in houses. It builds webs in dark areas, and preys on small insects and other arthropods.  The bite is generally considered harmless, although minor local reactions to bites have been described.  Despite the urban myth regarding its extreme toxicity, little is known of the venom of this spider.

  • Jumping Spiders (Many species)

    jumping spider

    Jumping spider (Sigytes scutulata female)
    (Photo R. Mascord)

    Jumping spiders are a diverse group of many different species, some of which may be found in suburban houses and gardens.  Their large, forward facing eyes allow them to accurately judge distances as they jump to capture their prey.  Few bites have been reported, with only local reactions noted.

    jumping spider

    Male jumping spider (Sandalodes sp)
    (Photo K. Walker, ©Museum Victoria)

  • Bird eating spiders (also called barking spiders or whistling spiders) (Selenocosmia and other species) 

    bird eating spider

    Hayden Bland, proprieter of "Jurassic Pets" in Victoria, photographed with a bird-eating spider in a Melbourne newspaper in 1998

    Bird-eating spiders are amongst the largest spiders found in Australia.  These large primitive spiders, native to northern and inland Australia, excavate long burrows from which they emerge at night to ambush prey including spiders, insects, frogs, lizards and sometimes small birds.  Some species are currently being collected from the wild and being sold as pets in suburban pet shops, increasing the likelihood of bites by these large arachnids.  Reported symptoms includes nausea, vomiting, sweating and general malaise.  No deaths have been recorded.  There is no antivenom available.

    bird eating spider

    Bird eating spider, also called barking or whistling spider (Selenocosmia stirlingi female)
    (Photo R. Mascord)