They're everywhere. I can't walk two paces outside without stumbling into a web and devolving into panicked swipings at my head and back in a vain attempt to rid myself of the silk and (more to the point) any possible spider.
This year it's little black and orange beggars everywhere.
I can't remember if I've seen them before. (He looks quite large in the photo, but that's just me, playing with the macro function on the camera, which I shoved up close until it was about two centimetres from him.) He's barely the size of a fifty cent coin, but he has grand ambitions of catching a human, because he is determined to spin his web across every doorway possible. Sometimes he's so quick that the web I walked into (and spluttered out) on my way out the door, catches me again on my way back in.
I'm told he's a mosquito-eater, and harmless. This does not particularly comfort me, as harmless in Australia does not always mean harmless. "Relatively harmless", for example, means it won't hurt you so long as you don't get close enough to annoy it. Harmless mostly means it won't hurt you badly. The fact that he's small is also no consolation: redbacks and irukandji are both small.
This morning I met another harmless spider, this one in the house: a huntsman. I couldn't get a great shot of him, so he looks smaller in the photo, because see the way he's sitting on the wall? That's an unhappy huntsman. Looks a bit like God's first experiment with macramé, doesn't he?
He's harmless, though, because he's not generally aggressive1, and a bite will "merely" hurt, swell, and itch like buggery. You know, nothing major. Your limb won't drop off or anything.
At least they don't spin webs. Although they do have that nasty habit of hiding under the sun visor of your car. That's never fun.
- except the females are a bit short-tempered, when defending their young [↩]