Spiders – love ‘em or loathe ‘em?
Personally I didn’t mind them at all until I had to do some research for my forthcoming novel The Weave. I had no idea of the number of different varieties nor of the nasty habits some of them possess. However it was all good stuff to help me create the Amarellos – my own genus of tiny scuttling spiders that have a part to play in the book.
For a bit of fun I’ve put together a list of the ten most dangerous spiders in the world (working up from 10 to 1) that gave me the inspiration for my fictional ones. Arachnophobes look away now!
At 10 we have the Hobo spider – a member of the Funnel-Web spider family but definitely not to be confused with the Australian Funnel-Web (see later). Opinion is divided as to its degree of nastiness but it is not thought to attack unless guarding themselves or their egg sacs. Seems reasonable.
At 9 we have the Camel spider – which is not actually a true spider more a look-alike. They live in very dry climates; can grow to 12-15 cm (5-6 ins). Legend has it that they use their distinctly nasty choppers to clip hair from humans to line their underground nests.
The Camel spider
Number 8 is the Yellow Sac spider whose tummy colour ranges from beige to yellow. Their venom is supposedly necrotic – that is it causes damage to and kills off flesh.
One snippet I found mentions that some of them like the smell of petrol encouraging them to weave their webs in the canister vent of cars – notably Mazdas. This is not A Good Thing and Mazda issued a voluntary recall.
At No. 7 is the Tiger spider – a species of Tarantula. Their legs can grow up to 10 ins in the females. They come out at night and rather than use a cobweb they ambush their prey, roll it in silk and start to munch.
At 6 is the Mouse spider – so-called because once upon a time they were thought to dig burrows similar to mice. Despite the meek and mild name they are said to be as dangerous as the Aussie Funnel-Web.
Number 5 is the Six-eyed Sand spider loaded with a nasty sac of necrotic venom which can cause life threatening wounds, particularly if the venom spreads.
Number 4 is the Redback spider – a member of the widow spider family. The female is more dangerous than the male who often, after serving her needs, gets guzzled. The lady of the species has a red stripe on the upper body and a red or orange streak underneath. Its two fangs bite into the victim then she wraps them up in silk and sucks out the liquefied insides. Lovely.
Number 3 is the Chilean Recluse spider; brown with markings that form the shape of a violin – hence its other names – Fiddleback or Violin spider. They hunt at night, leaving their webs and have a penchant for a dry, quiet neighbourhood like woodpiles and sheds. Ominously it is frequently found in houses.
Number 2 is the Sydney Funnel-Web spider, native to Australia, around Sydney. A nibble from this lovely can cause serious injury or death in humans if not treated. It comes in several colours – blue-black, brown or plum.
And number 1 in the line-up is the Brazilian Wandering spider. Aggressive and venomous, striped, hairy and long-legged (4-5 ins) it has striking red jaws which it displays when miffed. True to its name it wanders on the jungle floors but it searches for a quiet des. res. during the day time wherein to hide. Sometimes it is called the banana spider as it is occasionally found in banana shipments.
So there they are, venomous, villainous but generally only when disturbed. But take heart they are not spread all over the world. It seems to me that South America and Australia have drawn the short straw when it comes to poisonous spiders.