Canberra Spiders: Redback Spider


Canberra Redback SpiderLatrodectus hasselti
Family: Theridiidae

Female redback spiders are spherical black spiders with thin legs and a distinctive red stripe on the back of the abdomen. They build tough, untidy webs in the shade, with a hidden retreat. The male redback is small, harmless and easily overlooked. Redbacks are common around ACT houses and can be found in abundance during the warmer months. Clearing away the webs and spherical egg sacs helps to keep their numbers under control. Steatoda is a common spider which is often mistaken for redbacks, but it lacks the characteristic red stripe. Although their venom is very toxic, redbacks are not aggressive and usually only bite when handled. Medical attention should be sought after all bites. Contrary to popular belief Redback spiders are not native to Australia and probably arrived from Asia in the 1880s. Redbacks in Canberra are currently being replaced by another accidental import, the less dangerous Brown Widow spider Latrodectus geometricus.

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