A Darwin woman has found up to 20 venomous mouse spiders at the bottom of her swimming pool, prompting Australian officials to warn residents about the rise in dangerous spiders as temperatures heat up.
Lauren Merritt, who said she was horrified by the discovery, was warned by experts to keep a safe distance from the creatures because they’re able to stay underwater for up to 24 hours, and so most were likely still alive.
According to an Australian-based pest control expert, September to May is the busiest season for spider sightings across the country.
This is a result of the rising mercury, which occurs as summer sets in, and because spiders move around in warmer months as they try to find mates.
Julian Bracewell, who works for Pest2Kill in Sydney, told the Australian Daily Mail that people often mistake mouse spiders for the more dangerous Funnel Web — the latter has fatal bites.
Mouse spiders are usually found in areas with dense bushland but are known to live across the country, he said.
Mr Bracewell also warned that they can grow up to 35mm long and their bites can cause severe pain and serious illness.
‘Mouse spiders aren’t as aggressive as Funnel Webs but they are venomous so handle with care and use gloves or a pool cleaner,’ he said.
‘A bite is pretty painful and will cause illness to young children. It’s similar to a Redback, their fangs are pretty long and anyone bitten should be taken to hospital.’
Officials have told residents to take extra precautions when in the garden, such as hosing down children’s toys before use and wearing gloves to garden.
Mr Bracewell added: ‘If you see burrows in your garden, call an expert. I wouldn’t handle that yourself.’
Around 1,000 Australians visit hospitals every year for spider bites, though there has been just one death by a spider within the last 37 years.
Jayden Burleigh died after he was bitten in April 2016 by a Redback while walking through a bushwalk in New South Wales’ north coast.