Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Redback Spider - Latrodectus hasseltii

    Family: Theridiidae
    Genus: Latrodectus
    A member of the family known as Widow Spiders. Redbacks are considered
    one of the most dangerous species of spider in Australia.
    They produce a Neurotoxic venom, which can cause severe pain, which in
    some cases can last for some time, often for over 24 hours. Very few
    deaths as a result of a Redback's bite have been recorded and no deaths have
    been recorded since 1956 when an Antivenom was produced.
    Females are usually a deep black colour, often with an obvious red stripe on
    the upper abdomen. On the underside of the abdomen there is an 'hourglass'
    shaped red spot. They usually prey on insects but they can capture larger
    animals that become entangled in their web, including large Crickets, large
    Spiders, small Lizards, even small Snakes.
    The Redback spider is one of few Arachnids which display sexual
    cannibalism while mating. (Wikipedia)

    My good friend Luc Stefan recently sent me this video of a Female Redback
    Spider tending to her Egg Sac. The remains of a Huntsman Spider
    (Sparassidae) can be seen in the Redbacks web.

    Filmed by Luc Stefan in early January 2012 in a cellar in the Barossa Valley,
    South Australia. 

    Gordon Grice, Author of 'The Red Hourglass' and 'The Book of Deadly 
    Animals' commented on this video and very kindly allowed me to reproduce 
    his words : "She's a beauty. I've spent many hours watching her American 
    cousins at their egg cases. The redback has been known to snare and siphon 
    some rather large tarantulas as well. I seem to recall one arachnologist 
    mentioning that he secured a nice specimen for his collection by stealing it 
    from a redback's web".

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