How To Deal With Spiders (And Their Webs) In The Wild

By the Wild Women On Top Team

Australia is infamous for its exotic and sometimes deadly creepy crawlies, including the most venomous spider in the world, the Sydney Funnel-web. But curiously, our bees typically pose more of a threat to humans because of the allergic reactions they cause in some people. 

A study from the Internal Medicine Journal from 2000 – 2013 reported 27 deaths from snakes, 25 from allergic reactions to bees, two from wasps, two from ants and three from ticks. And spiders, despite their notoriety, have not caused any deaths since antivenom was developed in 1981 .

So, the next time a monster Huntsman crawls across your bed, R-E-L-A-X …it wont hurt a bit.  

Like snakes, venomous does not necessarily mean dangerous – they’re far more scared of us than we are of them! But that doesn’t mean we don’t see them.

If you hike for long enough, you’ll probably collect a spider web in the face, especially on summer nights when the clever little critters carefully erect their fabulous insect-trapping webs across your local trail. 

Don’t panic! The spider usually feels your footsteps approach and has already skedaddled to the safety of the nearest twig by the time you realise you’re covered in sticky silken threads.

We recommend backing away from whence you came and the web will peel off you. Then, check where the web was attached and locate the terrified spider so you can hike merrily on your way. If you don’t spot the spider instantly, check your body and flick it off when you find it. Most often these will be harmless little guys or gals with no harm done. Obviously, if its not, take immediate action. 

Only once - in our 20 years of taking thousands of women into the bush – have we had a Wild Women bitten by a white tail spider. And it wasn't in the bush, it was at a backyard barbecue! Sensibly, she went straight to hospital and was fine.

If you’re worried about spiders and their creepy webs when hiking, here are a few of our top tips:

  1. Carry trekking poles, or grab a stick, to brush away webs that cross your trail.
  2. Walk behind your fearless leader with the poles or spider stick and by the time you pass, it will be all clear. 
  3. Familiarise yourself with spider bite first aid and carry a first aid kit so you’re prepared in the unlikely event you're bitten by a spider. Invest in a SMART bandage, a great piece of first aid technology that tells you how much tension to apply on the bandage if you’re bitten by a funnel-web, or a snake.
  4. Be careful where you put your hands. Spiders like to hide under rocks and in holes, so watch where you're putting your fingers if you're rock scrambling or climbing.
  5. Try to change the way you think about them. If you see a spider near you, think: 'Oh hey little guy, I don't really want you to be there anymore' rather than 'OMG A SCARY SPIDER!!' and you'll find they lose a lot of their power. 

Spiders are more scared of you than you are of them, so they're unlikely to attack unless they're provoked. Tread carefully, watch your fingers, and carry those trekking poles for icky spider webs!

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