THE Katherine region is currently seeing an increase in the deadly redback spider population and at least one local already had to get medical treatment after being bitten in the foot.
Clare Pearce, Community Engagement Officer with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT, said redback spiders were a common inhabitant of urban gardens and sheds and urged Katherinites to be on spider watch.
“These spiders love the dark, dry cracks and crevices that provide sheltered sites for the tangled slightly funnel shaped webs that female redback use for catching prey,” Ms Pearce said.
“Redback spider bites are reasonably common during the warmer months of the year with at least 250 people across Australia receiving anti-venom each year."
“Only the bite of the female spider is dangerous, causing at times severe pain, sweating, muscular weakness and nausea.
“Fatalities due to redback bites did occur in the past, however, since the introduction of redback antivenom in 1950 there have been no reported deaths.”
The St Johns First Aid manual recommends that a cold pack or compress be applied to any redback spider bite and that you seek prompt medical aid in case of envenomisation.
“Do not apply a compression bandage,” Ms Pearce said.
“The venom of this spider moves slowly and a compression bandage may increase the pain and discomfort felt by the patient.”
Adult female redback spiders are around one centimetre long.
"Only the bite of the female spider is dangerous, causing at times severe pain, sweating, muscular weakness and nausea."
They have a black to brownish abdomen with a usually red but sometimes orange stripe on the upper surface and an hourglass shape the same colour on the underside.
They have long, slender legs with the first pair being much longer than the others.
The male is much smaller, around three to four millimetres, and is a brownish colour with white stripes and markings.
Wearing gardening gloves and keeping sheds and outdoor areas tidy may decrease the likelihood of coming across a redback spider unexpectedly.