Surprise! Yep, afraid so.
The results are in: If you are going to get a severe spider bite, the odds are it is going to be from a huntsman.
That is simply what the data say.
Hows ‘bout that? They are responsible for more bites than any other spider.
And that comes from the Oxford International Journal of Medicine:
”This is the only large study of spider bite with prospective data collection, follow‐up and expert identification of spiders, and so provides the most accurate information on spider bite published to date. It gives comprehensive information on Australian spider bite as well as on the clinical effects and circumstances of bites by important groups of spiders that also occur worldwide…the commonest family to cause bites was that of the huntsman spiders”
and, considering the majority are, specialist confirmed, “harmless” huntsman bites, it is curious that:
”Pain or discomfort occurred in ALL750 definite spider bites…moderate in 544 cases (63%) and severe in 205 cases (27%).”
Severe pain for more than 24hrs in nearly a third of cases? How do these people define harmless? Red back was the worst, but only accounted for ~5%, funnel web <1%. ~6%? Hmmmm let me do the math here, and, yep, *carry the 1*, hey yeah : That means the MAJORITY of SEVERE spider bites in this country are estimated to come from HUNTSMAN.
We get lied to all day.
So you can add “huntsman are harmless” to the list of ignorant things people say, everyday, just because someone else said it to them once.
And there is no other rigorous study. Zero. None. One other real major one in scope, but not as rigorous. Harmless, pfft.
”Bites occurred to all parts of the body, with 49% distal (hand or foot), 27% on the proximal limb, 16% on the trunk, 7% on the head/neck and 1% on multiple regions…puncture marks or localized initial bleeding occurred in 33% of bites…swelling occurred in 13%… a red mark in 69% of cases… Systemic effects occurred in 13% of all spider bites.”
9 new sub-genus of huntsman spider found since 2012: some with no eyes at all.
Maybe that is species not genus, whatevs, that’s still a lot; too many, I say. What kind of creature has no eyes anyhow? Communist, probably.
Say what you will about creepy things, politics and genocide: at least bats have the decency to have eyes. Same goes for Mao and Stalin.
Ohhhhh, they so have changed the genus as well! It is Heteropodidae, it was formally Sparassidae.
See? They’re sneaky too. Never play cards with them.
Apart from this study, there is virtually no information on spider bites, for any species, ever; because there is no expert identification almost ever. Obviously, when you think about it.
You have to rely on the patients’ memory, after the fact.
Of the few big studies attempted, most were done here (more spiders); 80% of injuries reported as “spider bite” by the treating physician where not actually at all. With the exception of some redbacks, where they actually did use antivenom a bit, and the funnel web- Most bites that are “bites” in the ED/AE, turned out to be from insects when examined by a specialist.
You can’t just milk spiders and inject people with the venom, apparently, so you have to trust patients looking at mug shots.
Do you know how many species in a single genus there are that live in just this country alone?
Yeah, the mug shot system was never going to work.
Plus, spiders do tend to look a bit different in those magnified close ups, to how they look whilst waving your arms in the air screaming:
“Get it off me! Get it off me! I’m too young, oh God I believe I believe, just get it off me!”.
Which was the conclusion the researchers came to as well.
Hence why we only have one decent study. And it says huntsman.
And when do most bites occur? All the time. Just, all the time. But they really start to pick up again around September/October. Yep, right now.
And I’m telling you, the females are coming in here following my pheromones. You think I’m joking? I’m not.
I bet I could induce mating barking if a female huntsman spider was exposed to my sweat during mating season. Hell, anytime. Hell, any species for that matter. No, but I’m serious. Get me some grant money.
No one is interested in inter species breeding anymore. Thank you VERY much human genome project.
But, anyway, otherwise we don’t know what bites have what effects. Period. Bloody science.
They even lost practically hundreds of samples in the only controlled study too. Even the good study. LOST. These people caught the spider, for the study, while dialing an ambulance with the other hand. The lab lost 180 of the samples.
So dead or alive; those people were not included. Odds are they were probably Huntsman bites though.
They live in colonies, that’s why there is a sudden rush of them. And their main predators are birds, and there are very few birds in my room. I’m diligent with that.
And when huntsman engage in cannibalism, they rarely eat direct kin, if they can help it, cause they are a social spider: one of the only ones. That’s from the J of Zoology. Well, how about that? That’s nice. It is also why there are so many different kinds of them we had to change genus.
I’d like to think Id eat my siblings only as a last resort…but deep down I know all it would take is a late pizza guy and handy plastic spork.
Huntsman are considered the largest spider in Queensland, 20cm from leg to leg in some cases. Consider the 30cm high school ruler. 20cms! “Draw blood if they bite you, on occasion”, well I’m not surprised: they’re 20 cm long. They could probably draw blood if they kicked you.
Especially all 8 legs in, with a jump kick. And they do jump at you too. Because they are “aggressive”. But not “aggressive and harmless”, “aggressive and severely harmful”. So slight mis-characterisation there. Changes the picture just a tad.
They are nocturnal, that is why I see more of them.
They live communally and bring 1/3 of food back to the hive-gaggle to feed younger siblings (unless they grow to be the same size, then they’ll kill them).
There is a single pregnant queen. So if you see an egg sack carrier – kill that with extreme prejudice. And always 2 there are – the master and the apprentice. They hunt in packs, usually pairs.
If you kill one, there will be another roaming with it: possibly bigger, possibly smaller. They are paired as master/apprentice, so hope you killed the older one first …and LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU!
And they probably eat people too, for all we know. It would explain why they run at you. Hasn’t that ever seemed curious to anyone else? I am still quite a bit bigger than them. Most of them. Were creatures smaller in the past? That is not what the fossil record appears to indicate. There is no reason for these spiders to behave the way they do. No reason.
Something like 13% of bites occur in your sleep, one study said. What a bastard of a spider.
Here is one on the keyboard:
Here is one sitting on the toilet roll:
They’re just a’holes. Perverts too, apparently.
Look at him glaring. You’re sitting there all vulnerable, staring back at the most aggressive spider in the whole country, the one that causes more severely painful bites than any other; and then it speaks:
“…wipe…slower…” it seems to say with it’s eyes (if it has them) in its cross-species gravelly pur of a look.
And that’s when you notice you can only see 7 legs. Dirty bastards. At almost the same moment you feel a fury paw caress your inner thigh, coming from INSIDE the toilet bowl.
Oh yeah, very “social” spider, the huntsman. Why won’t this soap make me clean?
The controlled study recruited people at random, had aracologists in emergency rooms, followed people for 2 years, gave them equipment to catch the spiders. There is no other good research.
Positive predictive values of spider species identification at over 0.95 with 95%CI of ±0.02. You better gosh darn believe it folks.
The results are in: If you are going to get a severe spider bite, the odds are it is going to be from a huntsman. That is simply what the data say.
So next time a hippie tells you not to kill one, or someone says “they’re harmless” and hands you a Tupperware container; hand it straight back and say that you just “got a feeling” mother earth wants them to personally handle this one.
Then just pray like hell that they are one of the ones that gets severely bitten.
Oh, man how I hate hippies.
J.J.R. (2013). Huntsman Cause Majority of Severe Spider Bites in Australia. Chronicle of Letters. Oct. Ed 8, (13).