Black tunnelweb spider
Many Dunedin spiders do bite, some are poisonous and
people should avoid holding them, entomologist Anthony Harris
Mr Harris said it was most common for people to come across
large spiders in their homes in November or early December
when mature males were looking for females to breed with.
Large male tunnel web spiders were commonly found in homes
and while their bite could be painful, the pain usually only
lasted a few minutes.
Vagrant spiders (an Uliodon species) could also wander inside
and their bite could be more serious.
''Bites from Uliodon species ... can cause severe problems in
some people, lasting for over a year.''
The slater-eating spider Dysdera crocota can give a
''sharp nip'' but the pain soon disappears.
Four other Dunedin species from the genus Steatoda, with dark
abdomens the size of a pea, can give a bite with pain that
lasts up to four days. The Steatoda spiders - accidentally
introduced from South Africa - were often found inside.
White-tailed spiders had a bad reputation but their bite
usually caused no problems, Mr Harris said.
The katipo spider (Latrodectus katipo) is found in
North Otago coastal areas. A bite can be fatal but only about
2% of people bitten, and not treated with anti-venom, die.
The larger Australian redback spider (Latrodectus
hasselti) is closely related to the katipo and its bite
has a similar effect. About 2% of untreated people (usually
elderly, sick, or very young children) died from its bite, Mr
''In general, it is best to avoid holding spiders in one's
A bite can be recognised by two small puncture marks, where
the spider's fangs have broken the skin.