Reported spider bites in the region up 20% in a year

EXPERTS warn that prolonged warm weather has brought an increasing number of redback spiders to the point where they are becoming a public nuisance.

There has been a 20% increase in reported spider bites on the Fraser Coast, according to Queensland Health.

There were 41 spider bites in the 2013 calendar year, up from 34 in 2012.

A Queensland Health spokesman said for the 2013 calendar year there were 83 snake and spider bites that presented to the emergency departments at Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

This consisted of 42 snake bites and 41 spider bites.

He said from this total Hervey Bay Emergency Department had 60 presentations (30 snake, 30 spider) and Maryborough had 23 (12 snake, 11 spider).

In 2012, there were 66 presentations to the emergency departments of which the snake bite total was 32 and the spider bites 34.

The spokesman said the Maryborough emergency department had the same number year on year of snake and spider bites with increase occurring at the Hervey Bay emergency department.

But it's not just people who are affected.

Queensland Museum's Robert Raven from said that colonising numbers of redback spiders could have an effect on wildlife in the region.

"We don't have a lot of sympathy for redbacks because they take out local wildlife," he said.

"It is concerning because these spiders aren't native to the area and can eat anything from a mouse up to a snake."

Redback spiders are not typically known to thrive in eastern Australia, instead preferring drier climates such as south western and southern Australia.

However, recent drought conditions have brought a dramatic rise in numbers, the likes of which Dr Raven has not seen for more than 10 years.

Dr Raven said while the increase in spider numbers could be dangerous, the main thing people could do was be cautious.

"When people go outside and are handling things that have been sitting in the sun, or even using doors and garages, they should be wearing gloves," he said.

"These spiders will be tucked away in places you don't see and won't take any notice of, that's how you get bitten."

What to do if you're bitten

For redback and white-tailed spider bites:

  • Wash the bitten area thoroughly
  • Apply an icepack.
  • Do not bandage the area
  • Don't eat or drink anything and seek medical help