White Tailed Spider
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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 Guide to the Spiders of Australia, by Volker W. Framenau, Barbara C. Baehr, and Paul Zborowski.
This is a great field guide to Australian spiders. It's a toss up between this one and Spiderwatch for my second favourite spider field guide. This one is a lot different to Spiderwatch. It's got more than twice the number of pages. It's got much better photos. It comes with a soft clear plastic cover protecting the usual soft cover. On the other side of the argument, it's got no index other than an index of family names (i.e. no index of actual spider names, not their common names and not their scientific names). Which makes it hard to find things in it, if you don't know what family they are in. Also it's based on families and not individual spider species. It's still a wonderful book though.
From the publisher, "This definitive guide to the subject, written by three experts in the field, offers a window into a fascinating world. Notorious species such as the Redback and the Sydney Funnel-web sit alongside less wellknown but equally intriguing spiders such as the ant-mimics and net-casting spiders. The introduction covers spider structure, evolution, reproduction, silk and venom, together with peculiarities of the family within an Australian context.
The two main sections of the book deal with Trapdoor Spiders and Modern Spiders, and within each section there is a chapter on each of the 80 or so spider families that occur in Australia. Each is illustrated with beautiful photographs of the subjects, with more than 30 images per family for some of the larger groups such as the jumping spiders, and many rare images never before published. "
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