about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

the dog and the red back spider



This morning I shook out Potter's rug, as I often do. It is kept on an outdoor seat where the dog likes to sit and wait for us when we're out. I got a fright to see a highly poisonous female red back spider on the rug. If Potter sat on this spider, it would definitely bite her. If she was bitten, without anti venom she would almost certainly die.




The Red back spider, Lactrodectus hasseli, belongs to the Theridiidae family, found all over the world. Native to Australia, it is very common and found all over the continent. It is a close relative of the Black Widow spider.

There is no gender equality among Red backs. Females are larger than males, the red stripe is more dominant and they live longer, about two or three years compared to six or seven months.

Female Red backs build a cleverly designed nest, keeping the eggs and spiderlings safe at the top and using the bottom of the nest to trap prey. Males don't build nests.

Male Red backs rarely survive the mating process. To keep the female occupied during mating, they turn a somersault and offer their abdomen. The female sprays it with digestive juices and proceeds to eat its fleeting mate.

The female can store sperm for a couple of years, using it to lay several batches of eggs. She then produces sacs for the eggs. Each sac contains about 250 eggs, and she can lay eggs every couple of weeks.

I re-located this spider and reminded myself to wear gloves when gardening.



26 comments:

  1. Hi Sue,
    Potter is so cute! Glad she's OK.

    Red Back spiders, very interesting and very colorful. I'm not surprised that they are related to Black Widows. Funny, but you never know just what you might find in your garden or around the yard.

    :-)) Jane

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    1. I do love that unpredictability, well, kind of, in this case ...

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  2. Interesting to read and see Red Back spider pictures. As far as I know we have not them in our country, I am so glad. I'm not scared of spiders but a poisonous one is something different, brrrr.

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    1. It's funny but I'm not scared of them. Actually I'm fond of them - from a distance though!

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  3. What a lucky escape for Potter! Re-located, hmm? Re-located with the heavy thwack of a boot?

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    1. Bernie!! I'm shocked at the thought ... hmmm?

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  4. Now that would shake me. A poisonous spider would really make me think about relocation and the chance I was taking.

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    1. well at least they're not aggressive like Funnel Web spiders, that we don't have here thank goodness. Although I've heard as the weather hots up they're coming south.

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  5. perhaps Potter and spider have an agreement to live and let live

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    1. Maybe, Potter has been very well brought up and she is very sweet and unaggressive. She certainly has never known the joys of hunting for food!

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  6. I have never hear of them here in Canada. Thanks for sharing this interesting knowledge on Red Back spiders. Be careful not to encounter one.

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    1. Thanks Thel, You're probably protected from lots of things by your cold winters.

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  7. Lucky Potter! We have lots of red backs here in the garden, especially under the rims of garden pots. I think I've been aware since childhood that you never hook your fingers under anything without checking first. They love old timber and rusty things, both feature in my garden so gloves are a necessity. So nice that you relocated it - we should try to live and let live, though I have had spectacular fails when the spider gives me a fright.

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    1. Hi Carol, I actually never even thought of killing it. Like you, I'm careful though.

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  8. Eeek! How often does it happen that a dog dies from a spider bite? And how would one know what killed the dog?

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    1. Hi Denise, I don't know how often it happens. If you didn't know what was wrong you wouldn't know to give the antivenom.

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  9. Oh that is scary and a scary spider much like our black widow in spot in the US.

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  10. Yikes! We have Black Widows here, but I've never seen one in the house or out in the wild--just in displays and at the zoo. Your spider looks dangerous, too. I'm glad Potter is OK!

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  11. Thank goodness she didn't get bitten. I brushed past one once while moving a pot, scared the living daylights out of me. I worked with a guy once who was bitten, and he said on his way to the hospital it was the most painful thing he's ever been through.

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    1. It sounds horrible, though I think since the antivenom was discovered, no one has died.

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  12. What a close call! I've seen a black widow here once but almost always have gloves on in the garden. My dogs occasionally try to eat the big bumblebees that go by but have never been stung, fortunately.

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    1. Hi Tammy, I'm trying to imagine dogs trying to eat bumblebees! It sounds like a cartoon... black widows sound sinister, but I guess I'm used to redbacks.

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  13. The spider does remind me a lot of our black widow spider. I am glad you saw the spider before harm could come to your pup! Thanks for sharing your outstanding photos with us.

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    1. thanks, Deb, I thought I was very brave taking all those photos. I'm grateful to the spider for giving me the subject for an interesting post though!

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