Body colour dull, dark grey with a distinct white spot at the end of the abdomen, (sometimes with paired spots toward front), legs shiny, brownish
White-tailed spiders are medium-sized spiders native to southern and eastern Australia, and so named because of the whitish tips at the end of their abdomens. Common species are Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina. Both these species have been introduced to New Zealand.
White-tailed spiders are vagrant hunters who seek out prey rather than spinning a web to capture it. Their preferred prey is other spiders and they are equipped with venom for hunting.
They are known to bite humans and effects may include local pain, a red mark, local swelling and itchiness; rarely nausea, vomiting, malaise or headache may occur. Ulcers and necrosis have been attributed to the bites.
The two common species of white-tailed spiders are Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina. They are similar in appearance with Lampona cylindrata being slightly larger with females being up to 18 mm long while males are up to 12 mm in body length. The legs span approximately 28 mm in diameter. The two species are not easily distinguished from one another without microscopic examination. They are slender spiders having dark reddish to grey, cigar-shaped body and dark orange-brown banded legs. The grey abdomen has two pairs of faint white spots and a distinct white spot at the tip just above the spinnerets.
The similarities have led people to think there is only one species of white-tailed spider. It is possible that not all white-tailed species have been identified. The descriptor, white tail, is applied to a variety of species of spiders for which a distal white mark on their abdomen is a distinctive feature; other markings disappear with moultings but the white tail remains to adulthood.
Both species are native to Australia. Lampona cylindrata is present across south-east Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia while Lampona murina is found in eastern Australia from north-east Queensland to Victoria.
White-tailed spiders attack and eat other spiders including Black house spiders.
Living in gardens and inside houses, the white-tailed spider can also be found beneath bark and rocks, in leaf litter and are often found in the folds of clothes, towels and shoes. They do not build webs and are most active at night.
White-tailed spiders wander about human dwellings and may be encountered unexpectedly, unlike the black house spider and the redback spider, which are more often seen in a web. They may be responsible for a disproportionately high number of spider bites compared with other Australian spiders, because of their wandering habits.
The bite of white-tailed spiders has been wrongly implicated in cases of arachnogenic necrosis. Both the white-tailed and the wolf spider were considered as candidates for possibly causing suspected spider bite necrosis, though it later turned that the recluse spider was the culprit in the reported cases from Brazil.
Following this initial report, numerous other cases implicated white-tailed spiders in causing necrotic ulcers. All of these cases lacked a positively identified spider—or even a spider bite in some cases. Additionally there had not been a case of arachnogenic necrosis reported in the two hundred years of European colonisation before these cases.
Photo provided by Queensland Museum, Jett Wright.
Information provided by Bayer.
Submit a new finding: