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White Tail Spiders: The Ultimate Guide Facts and Myths

White tail spider

Table of Contents

Sharon McCulloch


  • The White Tailed spider is a common species in Australia.
  • White Tail spiders are not among the most poisonous spiders in Australia.
  • Claims of necrotic ulcers caused by White Tail spider bites are mostly unfounded.
  • White Tail spider bites typically result in temporary symptoms such as pain, swelling, and redness.
  • White Tail spiders primarily feed on other spiders, including Black House spiders and Redback spiders.
  • If you want to know what to do in a first aid situation, upskill yourself with a HLTAID011 first aid course or HLTAID014 Advanced First Aid Course

The White Tail Spider 

The White Tailed spider is a species of eight-legged crawly common in Australia, which has had a particularly nasty reputation in recent years. Despite not being one of Australia’s most poisonous spiders (that prize goes to Redbacks and Funnel-webs), the White Tail is nearly as notorious – mainly due to the internet.

There are two common species of white tailed spiders which are Lampona Cylindrata and Lampona Murina. The White Tailed Spider Lampona is slightly bigger with females reaching up to 18mm long and males 12mm retrospectively. The leg span is approximately 28mm. The White Tailed Lampona Murina is a little bit smaller but without checking these two species under a microscope, they generally look the same. 

For years now, there have been stories of White Tailed spider bites causing necrosis – or rotting of the flesh. The claim is that a white tail’s fangs are filled with a horrible cocktail of toxins and deadly bacteria, and their bite will have chunks of skin and flesh rotting off and you’ll develop nasty necrotic ulcers. And because that story is so horrific, people can’t help but read it and pass it on.

For this reason, White Tails have been aggressively hunted and squashed in people’s houses. But is their reputation deserved? Do we really need to be chasing down and killing every White Tailed spider we catch a glimpse of?

Let’s start with a few essentials about the White Tail spider.

White Tail Spider Bite

White tail bites have long been linked to a phenomenon known as “Necrotising Arachnidism,” which involves necrotic ulceration and inflammation that can be frightening to those with skin. This condition is often associated with the belief that it is caused by a spider bite, and in severe cases, it may result in significant skin loss.

While necrotising arachnidism does exist, it is typically caused by bacterial infections rather than from a white tailed spider bite, as many people mistakenly believe.

White Tail Spider Bite Symptoms

Typically, in a White Tailed spider bite, the affected area will exhibit temporary symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Mild to moderate pain or discomfort
  • Swelling
  • Skin irritation or a visible red mark
  • Puncture wounds
  • Itchiness that can occur immediately or after a few days
  • Severe pain 
  • Nausea, vomiting, headache or feeling unwell

White Tail Spider bite symptoms

The duration of a white tailed spider bite symptoms is usually about 24 hours, but this can differ from person to person. While some individuals may only experience symptoms for a couple of hours, others may suffer from symptoms such as a painful red mark on the skin that may persist for up to a week.

Spider Bites And Anaphylaxis 

Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, can occur in certain individuals who have been bitten by a spider. This condition has the potential to be life-threatening, with a rapid onset that can lead to fatality within as little as 15 minutes.

Signs Of Anaphylaxis Include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hives or widespread itching
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
  • Weakness or feeling faint
  • Loss of consciousness

Spider bites can cause various symptoms, ranging from mild irritation to severe medical emergencies. In rare instances, individuals may encounter anaphylaxis, an intense allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing anaphylaxis after a spider bite, it is crucial to seek immediate medical assistance.

If any of the following symptoms are observed, it is important to promptly dial emergency services (Triple Zero, 000), refer to the anaphylaxis treatment guideline of the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC), and adhere to the DRSABCD protocol while preparing to administer CPR.

Spider Bites and Anaphylaxis

What Happens If You Get Bitten By A White Tail Spider?

The reality of being bitten by a white tail is (thankfully) far less exciting than the myth.

For starters, White Tails are reluctant biters and generally only bite if they’re provoked or threatened (like when someone tries to put on the clothing they were taking shelter in).

Second, if you get bitten by a White Tail spider, you can probably expect something similar to a bee-sting. There’s generally a burning sensation in the bite area, followed by mild swelling and an itchy red mark. In rare cases, you might suffer a few side effects like nausea or headaches. Most symptoms should resolve within 24 hours, but in some cases, you might have a small irritated sore or lesion in the spot for around 5-12 days.

But what about the stories from the internet of flesh-rotting necrotic ulcers? As it turns out, they’re probably bunkum!

In 2003, a scientific study (published in the Medical Journal of Australia) examined 130 patients with confirmed White Tail spider bites, where the spider was caught and confirmed to be a White Tail by experts. They found most patients reported some pain from the bite, and around 44% had a persistent sore for a few days. Around 9% also suffered things like headaches and nausea. The average length of time that symptoms persisted was about 24 hours.

The study of 130 definite bites, not a single patient suffered from necrotic ulcers or similar types of tissue damage.

Digging down a little further, it was found that in almost all cases of necrotic wounds where a White Tail spider was implicated, the connection was pretty sketchy. No instance was found of a White Tail being seen to inflict the bite. In many cases, the spider was found later and assumed to be the culprit (generally for want of a better explanation).

Currently, there’s simply no evidence to suggest that white tail spiders are the sinister, flesh-rotting monsters that create necrotic ulcers the internet has claimed them to be. In the majority of cases, their bite is less harmful than a bee sting. In fact, they’re statistically less dangerous than bee-stings – bees claim about 2-3 lives a year in Australia (generally due to allergies). In contrast, White Tail bites have claimed none.

There’s only one type of spider species currently known to consistently cause necrotic wounds through their bite – the Recluse spider. In particular, the Brown Recluse spider. These are not native to Australia, although there are some indications they may now have been introduced.

How To Treat A White Tail Spider Bite?

There are several ways to alleviate the symptoms of a bite, including:

  • Placing a cold pack or ice covered with a towel on the affected area
  • Taking a pain reliever like paracetamol (Panadol) or ibuprofen (Nurofen) to lessen pain, swelling, and inflammation
  • Take an antihistamine to relieve itchiness.

white tail spider bite first aid

White Tail spider bites are sometimes painful but don’t require significant treatment. None of the 130 patients involved in the study mentioned above needed to be hospitalised.

Generally, start by cleaning the wound site to minimise the chance of infection. Then, apply an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas at a pinch) to reduce the swelling and numb the wound. That’s about as much as you need to do, really – although it might pay to check your shots (including tetanus) are up to date. If you’re concerned, seek medical attention or read about When to worry about a spider bite.

It’s worth knowing that most standard first aid courses provide training in identifying and responding to bites and stings, especially the HLTAID013 remote first aid course – including spider bites. So if spiders are common in your area, or you want to know how to identify and respond to a potential spider bite, spending a few hours doing a professional first aid course is probably one of the best ways you could invest your time.

What Does A White Tail Spider Look Like?

  • Cylindrical body that measures between 1 cm to 2 cm in length
  • Glossy legs
  • Its colouring that ranges from dirty grey to brown
  • Light-coloured grey or white spot located at its tail, and it may also have two comparable spots near the front of its body

The White Tailed spider is one of the more distinctive spiders you’ll find around the house and garden. They usually have a body up to 18mm long and a leg span of around 28mm (they’re generally small enough to fit entirely on a 20c coin). They have a distinctive, elongated, cigar-shaped body – looking a little like the sports-car version of a spider. They also generally have two small white circles at the very rearmost tip of the abdomen – the distinctive feature from which they get their name.

What does a White Tail Spider Look Like

The body is usually dark reddish to grey, while the legs are generally dark-orange to brown in colour. The females are larger than the males. There are actually multiple species of white-tail (two of which are common), but it’s difficult to tell one species from the other without a microscope, and their behaviour and physiology is very similar.

Spiders That Look Like White Tails

It is important to note that correctly identifying a spider can be challenging and may require the assistance of an expert. Some spiders that resemble white-tail spiders include:

It is important to exercise caution when encountering any spider and avoid touching or handling it if possible.

White Spider Australia

White Tailed spiders are native to Australia and can be found almost everywhere – although they don’t like the tropical regions as much. They have also been inadvertently introduced in New Zealand. However, the White tailed spider is most commonly found in the southeastern regions, including Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. They are also present in Tasmania and Western Australia. 

Lampona Cylindrata is primarily distributed in the southern regions of Australia, while Lampona Murina serves as the equivalent species in the northern half of the country. Regrettably, there seems to be substantial overlap in the ranges of these two species.

Within these regions, white-tail spiders can be found in both urban and rural areas, particularly in homes and gardens. It is important to exercise caution and take preventative measures, such as keeping the home clean and free of clutter, to reduce the chances of encountering these spiders.

Where Are White Tail Spiders Found?

White Tailed spiders like dark places and things to hide under. They don’t spin webs like many spiders do (they can make silk, but typically only use it to make egg-sacks to protect their young). 

Rather, they tend to hide in small, dark spaces during the day and roam around hunting for food at night. While outdoors, they tend to hide in bark, leaf litter, and under rocks.

Indoors, they try to find similar conditions – and regrettably (for the spider as much as for humans), they often hide in folds of fabric, such as clothing left on the floor. If you’ve ever seen a white-tail around your house and you’re in the habit of leaving your shirts on the floor, maybe give them a quick shake before you put them on.

Why On Earth Would I Want A White Tail In My House?

It seems like a bizarre idea to want to keep spiders in your house. Especially spiders that like hiding in clothes and which the internet has linked (incorrectly) with flesh-rotting ulcers. Why would I ever want such a thing around?

Here’s why.

White Tailed spiders don’t eat people. Nor do they lay webs to catch flies or other flying insects. What they do eat is other spiders.

In particular, three favourite foods of the White Tail spider are Black House spiders (those horrible stocky black spiders around the size of a 20c coin), Brown House spiders, and the Redback spider

Black House spiders do have a nasty (although not fatal) bite, while the Redback spider is one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. You want the White Tail around because his favourite past-time at night is hunting, killing, and eating those spiders.

In fact, one of the ways experts recommend keeping your house free of White Tails is by getting rid of the other spiders. Because once you’ve done that, your home isn’t all that interesting to them.

They also eat Daddy-long-legs spiders which aren’t dangerous, but many of us could do without.

White Tailed spiders are tiny little spider hunting assassins. They roam your house at night, hunting down the really nasty spiders and making sure no one ever finds the body. Then they find a nice quiet corner to hide for the day, not leaving any webs for you to walk into. 

As long as you don’t accidentally try and wear their hiding spot, they’re on your side. So even if it means you need to be careful about leaving shirts on the floor – and perhaps give them a quick shake-out if you do – it’s worth thinking about letting White Tails be.

What Attracts White Tail Spiders?

White-tailed spiders have a proclivity for concealing themselves in dimly lit and disregarded areas, and the presence of residual food can entice insects, which, in turn, attract more spiders. Eliminating cobwebs and egg sacs through vacuuming or dusting can dissuade spiders from revisiting the area.

How Do You Get Rid Of White Tail Spiders?

There are several steps you can take to help get rid of white-tailed spiders:

  • Eliminate clutter and debris: White-tailed spiders like to hide in dark and neglected places, so it’s important to remove any clutter or debris that could provide them with a hiding spot.
  • Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming can help remove spiders, their webs, and egg sacs from your home. Be sure to vacuum corners, behind furniture, and other hard-to-reach areas.
  • Seal cracks and gaps: Seal any cracks or gaps in doors, windows, and walls to prevent spiders from entering your home.
  • Reduce food sources: White-tailed spiders are attracted to insects, so reducing the number of insects in your home can help reduce the spider population. Keep food in sealed containers, and regularly dispose of any food scraps or garbage.
  • Use spider repellents: You can use commercial spider repellents, which are available in spray or plug-in form.
  • Consult a pest control professional: If you have a persistent white-tailed spider problem, it may be necessary to consult a pest control professional. They can help identify the source of the problem and provide targeted treatment to eliminate the spiders

How To Get Rid Of White Tail Spiders Naturally?

Here are some natural ways to help get rid of white-tailed spiders:

  • Peppermint oil: White tip spiders are known to dislike the smell of peppermint oil. You can mix a few drops of peppermint oil with water and spray it around the areas where you have seen spiders.
  • Vinegar: Like peppermint oil, vinegar is also a natural spider repellent. You can mix equal parts of water and vinegar and use it to wipe down surfaces in your home.
  • Citrus: White tail spiders are repelled by the smell of citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges. You can use the peels of these fruits to wipe down surfaces or place them in areas where spiders are likely to congregate.
  • Essential oils: Essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus can also be effective at repelling spiders. You can mix a few drops of these oils with water and spray it around your home.
  • Remove clutter: White-tailed spiders like to hide in cluttered areas, so removing clutter can help discourage them from taking up residence in your home.
  • Seal cracks and gaps: Seal any cracks or gaps in doors, windows, and walls to prevent spiders from entering your home.

It’s important to note that while these natural methods may be effective at repelling spiders, they may not completely eliminate an infestation. If you have a persistent white tailed spider problem, it may be necessary to consult a pest control professional for more targeted treatment.

Is The White Tail Spider Poisonous?

The venom from a white-tail spider bite can result in feelings of nausea and a burning sensation, which can then be accompanied by inflammation and itching in the surrounding area.

How Aggressive Are White Tail Spiders?

White tail spiders are not generally aggressive towards humans, and they usually only bite as a reaction to being surprised or startled. As a matter of fact, people usually get bitten on their arms or legs when they accidentally disturb a white tail spider that has been hiding in their clothing, towels, or bedding.

Why Am I Getting White Tail Spiders In My House?

The most efficient but perhaps unexciting way to eliminate white tail spiders is by taking steps to remove their hiding places. White tail spiders tend to seek out dark, unattended areas, and they are attracted to insects that gather around leftover food. Using a vacuum or dusting away cobwebs and egg sacs can help discourage spiders from returning. It is also helpful to clear away plant debris and other clutter from around the home to limit the number of spiders that can make their way inside. By doing so, you can also avoid any unpleasant surprises when moving piles of objects and having spiders suddenly appear.

Can White-tail Spider Bites Make You Sick?

White tail spider bites can trigger a severe allergic reaction in some people, known as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and develop in as little as 15 minutes. Symptoms may include tightness or swelling of the throat, making it difficult to breathe or swallow. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if these symptoms occur or if there are any concerns about the severity of the reaction to a white tail spider bite.

What Happens If A Dog Eats A White-tail Spider?

It is important to keep a close eye on your dog if they consume a harmful spider, as it does not necessarily mean that there will be no negative effects. Your dog may experience symptoms such as an upset stomach or unusual behaviour in the days following ingestion. In the event of any uncertainty or concerns, it is best to bring your pet to a veterinarian for a checkup. Generally, dogs are quite resilient and should recover without issue unless they were bitten by the spider. However, if your dog begins to display signs such as disorientation, dizziness, or difficulty breathing, it is essential to seek veterinary care immediately.

Do White Tail Spider Bites Hurt?

When bitten by a white-tailed spider, one may experience an initial sensation of burning pain, which may then be followed by swelling and itchiness in the affected area. 

How Do You Know If You Have A White Tail Infestation?

White-tailed spiders are a common household spider found in Australia. Here are some signs that may indicate a white-tailed spider infestation in your home:

  • Sightings: White-tailed spiders are often seen running across walls and ceilings in search of prey. If you notice an unusual number of these spiders in your home, it may be a sign of an infestation.
  • Bites: White-tailed spider bites can cause a range of symptoms, including itching, swelling, and pain. If you or someone in your household experiences unexplained skin irritations or bites, it may be worth investigating whether there are white-tailed spiders in your home.
  • Webs: While white-tailed spiders do not spin large webs, they do produce small irregular webs in corners and under objects. If you notice an increase in these webs in your home, it may be a sign of an infestation.
  • Shed skins: Spiders shed their skins as they grow, and these skins can often be found in the corners and edges of rooms. If you notice an increase in shed spider skins, it may be a sign of an infestation.

If you suspect a white-tailed spider infestation in your home, it is best to contact a pest control professional. They can properly identify the spiders and provide treatment options to eliminate the infestation.

Where Do White Tails Lay Eggs?

White-tailed spiders lay their eggs in silk egg sacs, which are usually deposited in sheltered places such as under bark, rocks, or leaf litter. The female white-tailed spider typically produces several egg sacs during her lifetime, and each sac may contain up to 90 eggs. The eggs hatch after about 2-3 weeks, and the spiderlings emerge from the sac to begin their independent life.

Do White Tail Spiders Eat Daddy Long Legs?

White-tail spiders are nocturnal hunters that roam around searching for prey. They are not web builders and have a predilection for feeding on other spiders, including curtain-web spiders, daddy-long-legs, redback spiders, and black house spiders.

Do White Tails Live In Beds?

White-tail spiders have a tendency to take shelter under various objects, such as clothing left on the floor or beds!! which often results in bites. To prevent bites, it is recommended to avoid leaving clothes on the floor and to check under bed covers before getting into bed.

How Do You Keep Spiders Out Of Your House?

To eliminate white-tail spiders, it is important to first understand their behaviour and physical characteristics. These spiders are nocturnal hunters that do not use webs to catch their prey, instead preferring to feed on other spiders. Although some myths have been spread about the danger of white-tail spiders, they are generally harmless to humans. 

To prevent white-tail spiders from entering your home, you can use essential oils such as eucalyptus, tea tree, or peppermint to create a spray and repel spiders. These scents are typically unpleasant to white-tail spiders and can discourage them from entering your home. Another option is to use vinegar, which can also be sprayed around windows and doors to keep spiders away. However, be aware that strong scents may have side effects, such as deterring friends and family from your home.

Should You Squeeze The Pus Out Of A Spider Bite?

Pressing or squeezing the lesions can result in the rupture of the affected area under the skin, potentially causing the pus to spread to other parts of the body. This can lead to further complications, including the development of additional lesions and the potential for infection to spread to nearby tissues and organs. Therefore, it is important to avoid squeezing or manipulating the affected areas and instead seek medical attention for proper treatment and care.

What Smell Do Spiders Hate?

Strong scents like citrus, peppermint, tea-tree, lavender, rose, or cinnamon are detested by spiders.

What Smells Are Spiders Attracted To?

Although human food is not part of their natural diet, spiders are drawn to the scents of human food. In addition, the insects that spiders prey on are attracted to leftover food crumbs, which can also lead spiders to food sources. Interestingly, the foul odour of sweaty socks, which is considered unpleasant by humans, is found to be attractive to mosquitoes and spiders as it helps them locate their prey. Mosquitoes are drawn to the scent because they seek to feed on humans, while spiders are attracted to mosquitoes, which are their preferred prey.

What Is The White Ring Around A Spider Bite?

The white circular area surrounding a bug bite is composed of dead lymphocytes, also known as white blood cells. These cells have sacrificed themselves by rushing to the site of the bite or sting in an attempt to neutralise the toxic saliva injected by the insect.

What Antihistamine Is Good For Spider Bites?

Antihistamines can help reduce itching and swelling caused by spider bites. Over-the-counter antihistamines such as loratadine (Claritin), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are commonly used to alleviate symptoms. However, it’s important to note that antihistamines only treat the symptoms and do not neutralise the venom. If you experience a severe reaction to a spider bite or if you are unsure about which antihistamine to take, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional.

What Do White Spider Eggs Look Like?

Spider egg sacs are usually small, white, or light-coloured spheres. These eggs are often enveloped in a silk sac to facilitate the incubation of the offspring. Spider egg sacs are typically less than a quarter in size.

How Many Babies So White Tail Spiders Have?

The female white-tail spider lays a silk sack containing approximately 80-100 pink eggs, which she guards until the spiderlings hatch. Once the spiderlings emerge, they disperse in search of their first meal.

The content on this website offers general insights regarding health conditions and potential treatments. It is not intended as, and should not be construed as, medical advice. If you are facing a medical emergency, dial 000 immediately and follow the guidance provided.

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