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back to article Dreaded redback spider's NEMESIS: Forgotten Captain Cook wasps

A species of Australian wasp discovered by Captain Cook but forgotten until modern times has turned out to be officially as hard as nails, as it makes a habit of eating the dreaded down-under redback spider ALIVE. A nigricornis was having killed a redback spider. Credit: Florian and Peter Irwin Call that a poisonous bite? This …

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Anonymous Coward

Not poisonous

venomous

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JDX
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Re: Not poisonous

Maybe both.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not poisonous

You can eat one if you want to. Me? I'll stick to bacon sarnies...

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Pirate

Re: Not poisonous

All Australian wasps and spiders are edible. Some of them only once though......

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Bif
Windows

Re: Not poisonous

Everything is only edible once. Unless you are a lagomorph, of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not poisonous

"Maybe both" just means you don't remember the definitions, and are hedging your bets. Venomous, not poisonous.

There's some poisonous snakes (at least 2 species), and many toads and frogs... Venom can be used both for attack and defence, but poison practically only for defence: it works when entering the opponents' digestive system. Which is far too late for your own good, usually, but the lesson helps your relatives survive.

The spider being a predator and clearly the human victims not eating them, the evidence is clearly for a highly-venomous spider --- so why would it waste energy on developing a poison as well? [So it's "maybe both" in the sense that maybe there were pink crocodiles roaming Antarctica 5 million years ago.]

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JDX
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Re: Not poisonous

>>"Maybe both" just means you don't remember the definitions, and are hedging your bets

Never mind. if you didn't understand, try reading the previous replies again and see if you can figure it out.

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Stop

So...

Let me guess, we encourage the spread of the wasp to combat the Redback, then discover that the vicious little bugger is more of a problem than the spider.

At least spiders don't go round ruining bar-b-ques, this wasp could destroy Australian culinary culture!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So...

Why would they bother? Red Backs aren't especially aggressive. My Mum grew up in Sydney, and they found them under the house all the time, especially in the tin bath they used for the dog. They'd flip it up and they Red Backs would scuttle off. There also hasn't been a recorded death from a Red Back since the 50's in Australia, they are hardly a menace worth worrying about.

Sydney Funnel Webs on the other hand, if you see one, leg it. Highly aggressive, can bite through a shoe... if it raises up and you, it means it's defensive and will attack. My Nan opened the door and a spider raised up like that. She left the house. Much more deadly, but again no one has died from a Funnel Web after the anti venom was developed. The one I don't like the look of is the White Tail, it was thought it could provoke a necrotic reaction some though that is disputed.

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Boffin

Re: So...

Sydney Funnel Webs are nasty buggers. Very difficult to main or kill too; they have the consistency of a piece of uncooked beef. You can hit them multiple times with solid objects (usually the first thing you grab - in my Dad's case a tennis racquet) and it pretty much just makes them angrier. Unlike most spiders, the male is the deadlier, as they are slightly smaller than the females but highly migratory as they explore to find a mate. They are all completely barmy and do not fear anything. They can survive for days on the bottom of chlorinated swimming pools - our neighbour's pool used to get SFWs in it regularly. We (the local gang of kids) once fished one out with the net (a SFW could net you serious pocket money - in the days before the antivenom the Sydney Reptile Park would pay cash for live Funnel Web Spiders - they went on to develop the antivenom in the early eighties). The SFW we found in the pool had been there about three days - on removal it appeared lifeless, but after a few minutes in the air it came too - mad as hell as usual - at which point we all realised we were in bare feet. Cue noisy exodus!

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Black Helicopters

on the subject of Funnel Web Anti-Venom

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-02/anti-venom-shortage-sparks-call-to-catch-deadly-spider/4239024

'Copter because it sorrt of looks like a spider...

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Re: So...

"Sydney Funnel Webs on the other hand, if you see one, leg it. Highly aggressive, can bite through a shoe..."

Er, not too sure about that one. I've read many times that they can bite through a child's fingernail - I think a leather shoe is a rather different proposition. One quick look at my simple office shoes can see that the leather is many times thicker than the length of spider's fangs so biting through them seems rather unlikely. The odds of one ever getting close enough to my shoe to find out however are VERY small.

If you have a cat, let it play keep the spider occupied as I understand cats (and dogs) are largely unaffected by the venom. I don't suppose they'd enjoy the actual bite that much but the venom won't have much of an effect (or so I read). It seems to be primates that react really badly to it.

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Re: So...

Ozzie boffins can now breed bigger wasps capable of dragging cane toads back to their nests to feed the wasplings - there is literally nothing that could possibly go wrong with this scenario.

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Silver badge

Re: So...

Then you just breed blue ringed tree octopuses to deal with the wasps, then vampire koalas to deal with the octopuses (octopodes?), then zombie mutant kangaroos to deal with the Koalas.

Then finally you have sharks with laser beams and reverse scuba suits......

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Alert

@ Yet Another Anonymous coward

I was with you until you got to "vampire koalas".

That's going too far even for us.

Don't mess with the drop-bears, mate. No way would we want those bastards breeding out of control. A fully-grown drop-bear will kill a Rottweiler in under 5 seconds, and they put more Aussies in hospital each year than all the redbacks, funnelwebs, blue-ringies, box jellies, taipans and king browns combined. BTW, don't forget to stick forks upright in your hat if you go walking in the outback - that'll discourage the koalas from attacking.

Trust me, mate. Don't be fooled by all the "cute cuddly koala" bullshit spouted by the tourist ads - that's just the tame domesticated ones in the zoos that have been bred from cubs to be around humans. The wild ones are dangerous fuckers in the best of tempers!

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Megaphone

Re: So...

This sort of misinformation is why the Australian Tourism Board has to pump out these information videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNEeq5qGh8I&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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Unhappy

Re: So... Rubbish.

The official list of the deadliest Australian animals (excluding humans)?

1. Horses,

2. Cattle,

3. Dogs.

They put people to their graves down under, not the variety of weirdo animals from taipans to jellyfish.

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JDX
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Re: So...

>>Let me guess, we encourage the spread of the wasp to combat the Redback, then discover that the vicious little bugger is more of a problem than the spider.

I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly...

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Joke

The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

Some of the sheep

Or maybe that was another place which just happened to be very, um, Australian?

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Devil

Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

You've never seen a cranky sheep then...!

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@Captain TickTock

Emphasis on 'some' of the sheep. There are a few good ones but most want you dead.

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Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

He did say "some"...

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Silver badge

Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

X X X X

Good on yer, Mate!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

My brother- now a resident for a few years - did keep Alpacas to protect his angora goat herd, but neither are natives to the counterweight continent.

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Happy

Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

"X X X X

Good on yer, Mate!"

Thanks!

But unfortunately, my name is Michael, not Bruce

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Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

Australia is the only place on Earth that makes west Texas look safe.

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Coat

Re: The list of non-dangerous creatures in Oz:

Welcome to the University of Woolamaroo.

Look, you being called Michael is going to cause a bit of a problem...

Do ya mind if we call ya Bruce?

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Anonymous Coward

That's the most poisonous wasp eating spider in this entire region! So what I'm gonna do, is sneak up on him, and jam my thumb in his butthole! Cranky! Boy this wasp eating spider is really pissed! I'm gonna jam my thumb in his butthole now! Oh yeah, that pissed it off alright!

That's what Matt Irwin will be up to next decade, clearly.

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Headmaster

you mean..

..Steve Irwin

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you mean..

No, I mean Florian Irwin actually... I got Matt stuck in my head somehow (maybe cos the name Florian is a tad unusual). The kid that discovered this spider eating wasp dragging a red back to it's lair wasn't Steve!

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Pint

Not that dangerous

Red-back spiders aren't really considered that dangerous down under and there have been no deaths since an anti-venom was developed. Sydney Funnel-Web on the other hand has killed a small child in under 15 minutes.

Rumours abound that the White-tailed spider bites cause ulcers and necrosis, but research in 2003 failed to support this.

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Silver badge

Re: Not that dangerous

Isnt that the common brown / recluse or violin spider that causes necrosis....In some cases more dangerous than the funnel web as the risk of infection from these wounds that take months to heal is massivley higher than the short, sharp (undoubtedly toxic) bite of a funnel web!!

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Re: Not that dangerous

Yeah, brown recluse have a nasty bite but not dangerous as in a threat to a healthy adult. I've been bitten, and took the better part of a year to fully heal, but didn't cause so much as a fever. This is another spider that is thankfully not aggressive. They are common hose spiders in places (NE Arkansas among others) but seldom bite. I owe mine to brushing against a bunch of webs when restoring a car that had been sitting for a few years.

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Oh yeah? Re: Not that dangerous

"Red-back spiders aren't really considered that dangerous down under and there have been no deaths since an anti-venom was developed."

As a general rule of thumb, I, personally, would consider any creature, for the bite of which there is an anti-venom, to be dangerous. But that's just me.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Not that dangerous

I've been bitten twice by the damned things visiting in the general area you mention. Both times the bite produced the ugliest of weeping sores at the bite site -- my calf in both instances, which makes sense given how I sleep when I do sleep. The timeline for me was a large pustule in the middle of red ring of rock-hard swollen skin, followed soon by little pimple-like nodules growing randomly on and around the swollen ring. The central pustule was weeping within hours of discovery and during the day it and its smaller companions had ruptured and the following two days were perpetual changing out Gauss bandaging, wiping up weeping liquid, removing dried up fluid (really not dry, more like a tree-sap,) and general cleaning to prevent infection.

Within a couple of weeks the weeping had all but stopped and was being held back by a scab just barely capable of holding in fluids, and barely capable of staying in place. Meanwhile the swelling had spread out more but the protrusion from the leg was reduced. About a month after the bite the site had no more swelling, no more oozing, and was just a thick scab about 1/3 inch across. This one remained more resilient to transient abrasions and annoyances, and stayed in place for about another two weeks.

In short, spider bites suck even if they don't kill you. Oh, and did I mention that for an entire month the damned thing itched like nothing I had ever felt before? (Except for the second bite, since I had obviously experienced similar itching the first time.) Oh, God, how it itched, but I experienced no illness associated with the bites. And for the curious who are still here, I did seek advice from my physician who said that so long as I wasn't getting sick, the only thing to do would be an optional course of antibiotics to help prevent infection. The first time I opted for a short course to be on the cautious side, the second I flew solo with no adverse results.

Paris, oh, God, the itching!

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Anonymous Coward

Florian?

Really?

Strewth, mate

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Silver badge

Re: Florian?

well I guess if you want your kid to grow up knowing how to fight! I did a double take on the Irwin bit, is it a common name there or just a stunning coincidence?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Florian?

Nah, if you want your boy to be tough name him Sue :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1BJfDvSITY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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There was a redback on the toilet seat

Sing along now...

http://youtu.be/TjDAiq2-xeU?t=15s

There was a redback on the toilet seat, When I was there last night.

I didn't see him in the dark, But boy I felt his bite.

I jumped high up into the air, And when I hit the ground.

That crafty redback spider, Wasn't nowhere to be found.

I rushed into the Missus, Told her just where I'd been bit.

She grabbed a cutthroat razor blade, And I nearly took a fit.

I said 'Just forget what's on your mind, And call a doctor please.

Cause I've got a feeling that your cure, Is worse than the disease.'

There was a redback on the toilet seat, When I was there last night.

I didn't see him in the dark, But boy I felt his bite.

And now I'm here in hospital, A sad and sorry plight.

And I curse the redback spider, On the toilet seat last night.

I can't lie down, I can't sit up I don't know what to do. And all the nurses think it's funny but that's not my point of view.

I tell you it's embarrassing and that's to say the least, For I'm too sick to eat a bite, While that spider had a feast.

And when I get back home again, I'll tell you what I'll do: I'll make that Redback suffer for the pain I'm going through.

I've had so many needles, that I'm looking like a sieve. I promise you that redback hasn't very long to live.

There was a redback on the toilet seat, When I was there last night.

I didn't see him in the dark, But boy I felt his bite.

And now I'm here in hospital, A sad and sorry plight.

And I curse the redback spider, On the toilet seat last night.

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Pirate

Re: There was a redback on the toilet seat

Ah, Slim Newton's best.

I've been told that the original words were "There were footprints on the ceiling when I got home last night"..

(use your imagination from there on)

Pirate icon, 'cause it's almost TLAP day.

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Thumb Down

Picture's Mouseover - Full Text Restored!

"A nigricornis was having killed a redback spider. And doesn't afraid of anything. Credit: Florian and Peter Irwin".

Once again I find myself called up to restore the part of the quote that was, somehow, omitted when the mouseover for the picture was being written.

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Re: Picture's Mouseover - Full Text Restored!

Shame you missed the typo. I'm sure it's a wasp not a was.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Picture's Mouseover - Full Text Restored!

"I'm sure it's a wasp not a was"

Were you there? Well, they _were_.

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Red back native?

There is a theory that the red back spider is not native. But may have arrived with First Fleet, perhaps having boarded in Sth America. Evidence is that there is said to be no word in Indigenous languages for our dunny-dwelling 8-legged friend.

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Silver badge

Re: Red back native?

Decent logic. IIRC the Hawaiians didn't have names for some things, some fish spring to mind, because they didn't need them. If they didn't bite you (mano, sharks) or weren't tasty (i.e. moi) they didn't all need a name beyond a generic ia (fish). It's not conclusive, it could have been lumped under a different more generic word for 'shit you should run from'. Or nobody survived long enough to name one?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Red back native?

no dunnies - no name required?

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Trollface

Re: Red back native?

They probably did have a name for it; it's just untranslatable.

Something along the lines of:

"OOOOWWWWWAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHFECKFECKFECKFECKFECKAAARGGGHHHHH!"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IIRC the Hawaiians didn't have names for some things

That's true.

My brother Derek isn't from Hawaii, and I'm unaware of them having a specific name for him.

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Silver badge

Re: IIRC the Hawaiians didn't have names for some things

Exactly :-) He would fall under the more generic term, haole (meaning no breath, either because he wouldn't exchange breath as a greeting or becaue the paler skin resembles corpses \ dead people tend not to breathe much).

There are actually things in Hawai'i that don't have specific Hawaiian names, most likely because they weren't worth eating :-)

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