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It’s Funnel Web Season // WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

We love the warmer months in the Illawarra. Stunning sunsets, lazy days by the pool, splashing about in the local beaches, sundowners overlooking the big blue, and funnel webs……wait! WHAT?!?

Yep, these weather conditions are drawing funnel webs out, so we’ve popped together some straight-shootin’ facts on what we need to be aware of when these arachnids are about.

Current weather conditions are drawing funnel webs out

Funnel webs are drawn out by certain conditions to eat and mate, and they are loving the current weather patterns. They like moisture and sudden temperature changes, so this hot weather, rain, cooler conditions and hot weather again is a cycle they thrive in.

The Sydney Funnel Web is the one you’re most likely to come across. 

The most common funnel web in the Illawarra is the Sydney Funnel Web – unfortunately, it is also Australia’s most venomous spider (gulp!). 

Clear the area around any sort of hole in your garden

Funnel webs create small burrows in the ground for themselves lined with a funnel style web – hence, the name – at the opening of the hole. Funnel webs like moist, dense conditions so holes are normally found in damp, shaded areas like rockeries, dense shrubs, logs and leaf litter.

It’s difficult to differentiate between funnel web holes, cicada holes and other spider holes such as the mouse spider who sets himself up in a similar way. So if you find a hole in the ground, clear the leaf litter away from the hole and make sure it’s all open and clear. This will dry the holes up, and funnel webs are vulnerable in dry conditions.

Sydney Funnel Webs are walkers not climbers

Well, they can climb but they prefer to stay on the ground, and they can’t climb on smooth surfaces – good to know! They can climb on rough surfaces such as logs, brick walls or steps but they’re not great at it, so they tend not to climb a long way.

Protecting yourself from funnel webs requires some basic knowledge of their activity

It all comes down to education. If you know where and how funnel webs move around, you can bring in some simple strategies to minimise the risk of being bitten by one. Funnel webs can happily climb up and over door thresholds, so always keep exterior doors closed. Don’t put your washing basket on the ground when you’re hanging washing out or taking it off the line.

When you’re outside gardening, wear good quality gloves and boots. Don’t leave boots and shoes outside. If you have, then give them a darn good shake and bang before you put them on again. And no bare feet in the garden at this time of year. Covered shoes are best.

Their venom is precious so catch and collect a funnel web if you can

Symbio Wildlife Park works as a Sydney and South Coast Funnel-Web Spider drop off point for the Australian Reptile Park.

If you’re confident enough to catch a funnel web, the thing to remember is that yes, they will rear up at you, but they will also walk backwards at the same time. So get a wide mouthed jar, tub or container and place it behind the spider. Then with a long handled utensil – something like a wooden spoon or spatula – push the spider backwards into the container.

Using glass jars can work, but it’s usually safer to go with sturdy plastic containers. This helps avoid the risk of dropping the jar or it breaking during transport, which could lead to the spider making a sneaky getaway.

Remember, the funnel web can’t climb smooth surfaces, so place it upright immediately, then pop some cotton wool in the jar for moisture and place a lid or covering on the top with air holes. If you don’t have a lid, you can use something like Glad Wrap secured with an elastic band.

Once the spider is secure, you can bring it to Symbio Wildlife Park and they will take the spider into care until transferred to the Australian Reptile Park.

Awareness of first aid procedures will minimise the risk of serious harm

Yes, funnel webs are deadly but thankfully an anti-venom was created in 1981 and since then, there haven’t been any deaths in Australia from funnel web bites. Follow the correct first aid procedure and get to anti-venom ASAP. Call 000 immediately. Stay calm and still, apply pressure to the wound area and immobilise the limb [most funnel web bites occur on limbs] by wrapping a pressure bandage around the area. Use a splint if you can. Anti-venom stores are kept in most city and larger regional hospitals. The ambos will know which hospital to take you to.

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