I decided to sweep out the garage today, and hiding behind some boxes I found this happy little critter:
I was a wee bit excited because I’ve never seen a redback in the ‘wild’ before. I paid her due reverence then whacked her with my thong. Footwear, that is – I didn’t tear off my panties to brain a spider. I’m not generally a spider killer, but I know if I was ever bitten by a redback I’d blithely assume it was a bullant or wasp, ignore the pain and keel over dead within hours. Mrs Spidey had to die so I could live.
Then I came across this fellow:
Even after 10 years, I’m still not entirely familiar with the dangers of natural Victoria. Kids in country Far North Queenland are well-versed in all things bitey, poisonous, hallucinogenic and painful in their environment. Green tree snakes won’t kill you, taipans will. Never touch a stinging tree. Always wash your hands after playing with cane toads. Cattle ticks are irritating but shellback ticks will mess you up. Cassowaries and wild pigs will gut you. Watch out for wait-a-while. Mango sap burns, always swim inside the stinger net and don’t eat the brown and yellow mushrooms that grow out of cow dung. And certainly don’t date the guy who blends them up and doses his morning coffee with them.
These things I know.
I don’t, however, know where redback spiders like to hang out. I’m still not 100% certain how to spot a white tail spider, a species which can apparently make your skin rot away with its venom. I had no idea what a stinging nettle looked like until I bare-handedly yanked one out of the garden a few months back. I absentmindedly stumble through blackberry shrubs. It’s quite literally a whole new world of pain.
And if anyone is wondering, this is what a stinging nettle looks like around these parts: