Busy season for spider bites

Red Back spider

Red Back spider

NSW Ambulance paramedics experienced a busy spring and summer, responding to 288 call-outs for spider bites and 136 for snake bites across the state, including four in the northern Illawarra.

Breakdown figures show that activity was most prevalent in the Sydney region (spiders – 133, snakes – 20). However, the Illawarra region didn’t escape, with a 38-year-old Wombarra woman taken to hospital after being bitten on the hand by a suspected funnel web spider in November. Paramedics were also called to Stanwell Park, Bulli and Woonona for spider bites.

Julie Mendezona, head of Reptiles and Spiders at the Australian Reptile Park, said that redback spider activity would start to dissipate over winter; however funnel webs were active year-round.

She said trapdoor spiders were often mistaken for funnel webs and while they did cause illness, it was not as serious as that caused by funnel webs, which were the deadliest spider in Australia.

“The Reptile Park has been running the funnel web spider venom milking program and we are the sole supplier to CSL who manufacture the anti venom. There have been no recorded deaths since we commenced this program over 30years ago.”

Ms Mendezona said that the park relied on public donations of funnel web spiders for this program. If a person could safely catch the spider, they were advised to do so, and drop it to the park for milking. There are also drop off points.

In the event of a snake or spider bite, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.


About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


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