As spring approaches, Hulett Environmental Services would like to remind homeowners that when spring cleaning motivates you to get rid of all of that junk cluttering up your sheds and other seldom visited storage areas, remember that dangerous spiders could be lurking in dark, quiet places. Just ask an Australian boy, who didn’t see this coming.
According to a recent Daily Telegraph article, on February 24th, a 10-year-old boy received the largest dose of anti-venom ever administered in Australia. Home to the world’s most venomous snakes, lethal box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopi and crocodiles, another animal on the world’s deadliest list is Australia’s funnel-web spider. An aggressive biter, when threatened or disturbed, the funnel-web spider releases neurotoxins into its unsuspecting victims, packing a power punch to the nervous system.
Funnel-web spider, hiding in shoe attacked ten-year-old, Matthew Mitchell
While helping his dad, Darren, clean out a shed on their Berkeley Vale property, north of Sydney, a hapless, Matthew Mitchell reached into a shoe where a funnel-web spider, ‘“clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn’t get it off,” the boy told the Daily Telegraph.
Fast-thinking dad slows venom’s effects
Amid shoes flying everywhere and Matthew screaming frantically, attested his mother, Shellie, his father quickly created a compression bandage with his shirt and drove the boy to the closest medical facility, a neighborhood pharmacy. From there, paramedics rushed Matthew to Gosford Hospital. With his condition rapidly declining, doctors “were forced to treat the boy, with a record 12 vials of anti-venom.”
Matthew’s attacker now in much-needed anti-venom milking program
Coincidentally, the Australian Reptile Park, running dangerously low on anti-venom, sent out a notice last month requesting live funnel-web spiders for their anti-venom program. Mitchell’s funnel-web attacker was consequently captured and is now doing time at the Reptile Park, as part of the venom milking program. Although Matthew suffered a “significant bite,” his mother reported that he was doing well. “I’ve never heard of it, it’s incredible,” the park’s general manager, Tim Faulkner told the Australian Associated Press, on Friday. “To walk out of hospital a day later with no effects is a testament to the anti-venom.”
Matthew’s mother, Shellie, still reeling from the incident, “is keen to tell the family’s story to warn others of the dangers posed by funnel-web spiders,” so others will take care when cleaning garages and sheds.
Average dose of anti-venom is 3 to 5 vials
Faulkner told reporters that, “an average funnel-web bite usually requires three to five vials of anti-venom,” adding that male funnel-web venom is five times stronger than the female spider’s venom. While children are more vulnerable to the venom, Faulkner said, without anti-venom, Matthew’s bite would have killed an adult. “It would have been a fatal bite (without anti-venom) there’s little to no doubt of that,” he said.
Sydney’s funnel-web spider’s venom can prove lethal in as little as 15 minutes. Since the introduction of anti-venom in the 1980s, no deaths have been reported.
Australian funnel-webs do not live in the US but other venomous spiders can inhabit South Florida
Although poisonous funnel-web spiders are indigenous to Australia, about 100 species of non-threatening funnel-web spiders can be found throughout Europe and the US. Southern black widow spiders and some brown recluse spiders live in Florida but aren’t established in the South Florida area. Brought into the area by travelers, bites from these venomous spiders can cause neurological damage and victims should seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, banana spiders, who visit South Florida via banana boats aren’t poisonous but they do bite and their bites hurt.
Hulett’s pest prevention program safeguards your home and your family
This spring, Hulett suggests wearing gloves, long-sleeves and long pants when cleaning dark, quiet spaces where spiders like to hide out. At Hulett, our pest prevention services go further to protect your home and family using materials and treatments customized to your needs without potentially harming the environment.
With our Healthy Home Guarantee, our responsible, graduate entomologists ensure that your home, family, and pets live pest-free. Our system excludes pests from your home, makes your home less attractive to pests and creates a pest deterring environment around your home. Contact us today to schedule a free inspection!