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Sydney mums - tell me about spiders

(43 Posts)
SeymoreButts Wed 10-Aug-11 08:29:47

Our move to Sydney is getting closer and I'm freaking out about anything and everything now but that's another post in itself.

I was watching DS (3) playing in my mum's garden yesterday and he is still obsessed with bugs and creepy crawlies. After much pleading from me he has stopped squishing them, now he just observes them closely and occasionally comes running in with a particularly big spider to show off.

So, if we do get a garden when we move (not sure what type of house or area we're going to opt for yet) out of the apartment DH's company are putting us in, will I have to tail both DCs all the time to prevent a bite from a Sydney funnel web? DH's simple solution is that we should live somewhere without a garden. confused

Obviously I googled it at 2am this morning when I was wide awake worrying about the move... and read that small children can die from a bite in less than an hour if not treated.

Eralc Wed 10-Aug-11 08:44:35

I've taught my 3 year old that he doesn't touch any spiders/doesn't go grubbing around under logs/in thick undergrowth/poking his fingers down holes etc. We've been here a year and a half and I've yet to meet anyone who has been bitten by one (and have only found one person who knows someone who has been bitten by a redback). I was petrified when we first moved out here, but having watched the locals am much more chilled out now! Also, if they get bitten, you will know about it (apparently incredibly painful), you will keep them still, phone 000, and the ambos will come immediately and treat with antivenom - way before your hour is up (having a plan of what to do if it happened kept my fears under control for the first few months!)

Don't let fear of nasties prevent you from having a garden of you want one - being able to be outside so much is one of the best things about Sydney!

SeymoreButts Wed 10-Aug-11 10:00:47

Thanks Eralc, that's good to know. So you haven't actually seen one in the whole year? I will just keep hammering it home that they are not to grub around in the garden (if we get one). I might start now actually! In my 2am haze I was planning to keep pressure bandages and limb splints in every room of the house. blush I will prob still do that...

idlevice Wed 10-Aug-11 13:06:47

We've had funnel webs in our garden - only noticed cos they were directly under the washing line otherwise I do not scrutinise our lawn in such detail to notice! Also had redbacks outside quite frequently, around the garage door, front door, mainly around doors. It doesn't bother me as usually DS is playing with outdoor toys rather than grubbing about in the garden as we don't do gardening here so he doesn't copy us or try to help out (cos I don't like the normal spiders & insects everywhere, esp biting ants).

Our place is sprayed once a year - could have it done more often but I don't like the idea of it even tho we chose one that supposed to be eco-friendly etc You can get sprays to use yourself like fly spray & we use this if we see something too near the house. The Aussies are so blase about these things that you feel like a right tit if you get worked up! Also it is drummed into kids at any day care, playschool, pre-school etc not to touch spiders whenever they do a song or story mentioning spiders.

Bubbaluv Thu 11-Aug-11 04:33:16

I moved to Australia when I was 5, and other than another 5 years back in blighty I've lived here all my life.
I grew up with an acre of garden much of which was natural bush. I have only ever seen one funnel web spider. My grandfather found some funnels once and he used to pour turpentine down the hole to kill the spider - job done.
I've never met anyone who was bitten by a funnel web or a redback. I've only ever seen 2 redbacks EVER!
The only people I've ever heard of spraying their homes for spiders are newly arrived expats on MN.
I know one person who was bitten by a tarantula and it hurt.

There really isn't anything to worry about unless you're going to live hours and hours from your nearest hospital, so avoid remote outback areas and you'll be fine.

Teach your kids to wear shoes/thongs and not to turn over rocks and logs etc.

Bubbaluv Thu 11-Aug-11 04:34:53

Aren't you scared of snakes? I think the snakes are much scarier! wink

Bubbaluv Thu 11-Aug-11 04:38:54

If they do (and they won't) get bitten. Don't wipe the bite area as they will test it to see which venom it is so they can administer the appropriate anti-venom.

Don't know anyone who's been bitten by a snake either.

Thumbwitch Thu 11-Aug-11 05:37:28

OK, I'm a bit outside Sydney (1.5h north) and have been here nearly 2y. In that time we have seen several redbacks, mostly in the crevices in outdoor toys (I have learnt that the really scrappy cobweb with bits of leaves in denotes redback territory) so the toys get hosed out before use and then the spiders are stamped on. They're very slow moving so easy to kill. I had one in the house but just inside the back door - shoe took care of that very easily. they like dark, quiet crevices where they're unlikely to be disturbed, so it's better not to leave shoes/boots etc. outside.

So far still haven't seen a funnel web and we're very close to bush, and our garden is pretty bush-like itself. Am a bit nervy of those, I have to admit - especially after I read that they can live in swimming pools as well!! shock If you DO ever come across one, don't try to beat it off or kill it, trap it in a jar with a lid and take it to your nearest hospital, so they can extract the venom for making more anti-venom.

We have had a few huntsman spiders but although big, they're not really dangerous unless you step on one or trap it - the bite can be painful but not really venomous (although of course you have to watch out for infection)

White tails - varying reports of the danger levels of these spiderbites - an Aussie friend here was bitten by one 10 years ago and still has occasional trouble with the wound site but research says that it's not really a problem. I would still kill one on sight if I saw it and I know people here who have their houses fumigated if they see one indoors.

Mouse spider - you don't want to tangle with that one either, but it's not really venomous, just aggressive and painful.

I have a DS who is now 3.8 - he was taught as soon as we got here not to touch anything in the way of creepy crawlies in the garden. Of course, MIL is a lot more blasé about the situation so encourages him to pick up moths and the like but I stamp on that concept asap because of course DS couldn't tell the difference between what is safe to touch and what isn't.

Snakes - the only one we've seen in our 2y here is a baby red-bellied black snake that was dead, probably dropped by a passing kookaburra (we have LOTS of those in our area, they eat the little skink lizards in the garden).

Our current biggest nuisance is a bandicoot which is making a real mess of our back lawn by digging it up all over the place - it's a kind of rat thing, we have a trap out for it (we're going to relocate it to some deep bush not far away) but so far no joy. They're pretty dangerous to handle, apparently, but you won't see many of them!

HTH smile

Bubbaluv Thu 11-Aug-11 05:50:44

Wow - a bandicoot!!? They're super rare aren't they?

Thumbwitch Thu 11-Aug-11 06:05:47

Not rare enough, Bubbaluv, IMO! Not that we plan on reducing the population by any, just relocating the damn thing.
I don't think the bandicoots are particularly rare (except the bilby, which I have only just discovered is a type of bandicoot, also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot) although they're not as common as they used to be. I don't know whether the one we have is a short or long nose, either would be possible in our area.

Bubbaluv Thu 11-Aug-11 06:21:59

I've clearly been living in the city too long! My parents have bush turkeys that dig up their garden - always wondered what they taste like.

Thumbwitch Thu 11-Aug-11 06:28:45

Probably very stringy! Where are your parents - they must be further north than we are, I think, haven't seen a wild one round here. We do back on to a huge area of bushland with a Wildlife reserve in it, which might have something to do with our "luckiness" hmm

Bubbaluv Thu 11-Aug-11 06:40:30

They're at Killcare - heaps of them round there.
We backed onto woods in the UK and we got moles. Mum and Dad's turkey wants to build it's giant mound under the washing line. They just got a new dog though, so problem may move along pretty swiftly.
We have possums in the roof - you can't escape Australian wildlife can you!?

Thumbwitch Thu 11-Aug-11 06:49:33

Certainly can't! And even if you can keep possums/turkeys/spiders and everything else out, there's still the cockroaches to contend with, little buggers.

The bush turkey mound is a beast of a thing so good job the dog will probably discourage the bird! Ha, must learn not to trust anythign DH says about wildlife habitats - he thought they didn't come down as far as us but have just checked that they're quite common into the northern suburbs of Sydney and down to Illawarra so just shows what he knows (and he's an Aussie!)

Eralc Thu 11-Aug-11 09:50:57

My husband saw a bush turkey on his way home from work when we'd been living here about 2 months. He told me he'd seen a turkey by the main road, and I thought he was taking the piss until I looked it up and discovered that they really do exist!

SeymoreButts Thu 11-Aug-11 10:51:28

Thanks Idlevice, Bubbaluv and Thumbwich! <makes spider classification notes> I'm feeling calmer about it now.

I'm that scared of spiders, more the venom. A huntsman wouldn't bother me, obviously I'd rather it didn't bite me though.

I'm fine with snakes too, they tend to bugger off if you disturb them, spiders seem more aggressive to me.

I've just been googling bush turkeys and crash bandicoots!

SeymoreButts Thu 11-Aug-11 10:52:31

I'm not that scared. Freudian slip!

DH is terrified of spiders and snakes, so I'd better man up because it will be down to me to deal with them.

Eralc Thu 11-Aug-11 13:06:16

How is he with cockroaches? They have been the worst thing about living here so far in terms of creepy crawlies! I don't think I will ever get used to meeting them on a trip to the loo in the middle of the night - yuck!

On the plus side, we've seen lots of interesting (and non-deadly/unpleasant)creatures in our garden since being here - DS1 thinks it's fab! My favourite was the huge bluetongue lizard that we discovered having a snooze in our garage, and the praying mantis that was wandering across the paving outside our front door.

Thumbwitch Thu 11-Aug-11 13:24:03

I loathe cockroaches. But am very grateful to whoever warned me not to squash them as they release their eggs if squashed, so instead of battering them, they get mortein'd into oblivion and the house gets mortein bombed every now and then. They're stubborn feckers though.

SeymoreButts Thu 11-Aug-11 18:21:03

I can guess how he is with cockroaches. Good tip about not squashing them. There's not much you can do to keep them out is there?

I'm looking forward to seeing some of the more pleasant creatures. DS needs a crash course in how to treat wildlife, he tried to ride Dniece's guinea pig. shock Thankfully I stopped him.

Thumbwitch Fri 12-Aug-11 01:23:03

Apparently you can put boracic acid around the inside edges of the house to keep them out but I have a 3yo and find that a bit of a scary option, as would you, I imagine! apart from that, newer houses are probably better protected against them but we have an old Colonial style weatherboard house so we have no chance. sad

Bubbaluv Fri 12-Aug-11 07:58:18

I think the egg -release on squashing story was made up by mortein TBH. Just squash the f*ckers and wipe up the mess with a bit of surface spray. I'd rather that any day than spraying insecticide all round the house all day.

Not sure about the spiders more agressive than snakes theory, but given that you're not moving to Duneedoo, the theory will probably remain untested.

A cockroach once flew into my hair and got all tangled. Still makes me shudder. Uuuuuurrrrhhhhh.

On the upside we have the most beautiful tiny hummingbirds that buzz around the flowers outside my kitchen window. They are teeny tiny - so cute! Always surprises me what you find in the mddle of cities.

Thumbwitch Fri 12-Aug-11 08:02:20

It surprises me that you have hummingbirds, Bubbaluv! I didn't think there were any actual hummingbirds in Australia. Lots of tiny honeyeaters, but not yer actual hummingbirds. Wow!

Bubbaluv Fri 12-Aug-11 08:38:26

I make no claims to be an ornithologist! It's a tiny little bird that buzzes about like a hummingbird. Hummingbird/honey eater, potato/potarto, carpet snake/king brown...
grin

sunnydelight Sat 13-Aug-11 08:56:31

I arrived in Sydney seriously arachnaphobic, four years later I wander round my garden barefoot like everyone else. We are in prime funnel web territory (upper North Shore near the bush) with a huge garden and I have never seen anything other than the odd house spider and a baby huntsman. We do get our house sprayed once a year but you just get used to things like not leaving shoes outside and teaching your kids never to touch spiders, it's no biggie. Kids who grow up here are totally chilled; there's been a couple of funnel webs and a very poisonous snake in the school playground but the kids know to stay away and call a grown up - it just adds to the excitement of a school day!

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