Red-back Spider Venom
The antivenom from the red-back spider can also be used to treat bites from the black widow spider, an infamous killer from the Americas. The venom from the female red-back spider is known as a multi-component because it is made up of a family of protein toxins, the latrotoxins being the most prominent. One of these, alpha-latrotoxin, is effective in mammals, including humans, causing over stimulation of neural pathways throughout the body with a wide range of effects. Some of the effects include a stinging sensation when first bitten which can become excruciatingly painful, draining of the lymph nodes in the groin, pain throughout the abdomen, chest, neck and head, profuse sweating, mild to severe hypertension and nausea. The initial pain of the bite usually means the bite is detected immediately, however, the red-back bite is one of the few spider bites with which antivenom can be effective a few days after the bite occurs. First aid treatment for red-back bites is different to that for funnel-webs. Do not apply a constrictive bandage. In fact the only action taken should be to administer ice packs to the bite site to help reduce the pain and then seek medical attention immediately.
Only the female red-back spider is dangerous. While the female is large and distinctive with her shiny black body and bright red abdominal stripe (though not all specimens posses this marking), the male red-back is small and insignificant and has a complex pattern including white and, occasionally, yellow markings. As the red-back is not a wanderer, most bites occur when the spider’s web has been pulled down or disturbed. Less than 20% of all red-back spider bites actually result in significant envenoming.
Red-back spiders usually make their webs under objects, with droplines to the ground or another flat surface. They are found most commonly under shelves, bottom rails of fence lines, under outdoor furniture, even in cupboards indoors. If you have red-backs in your area check thoroughly before putting your hands underneath items such as flower pot rims, bricks, tables, etc.