Not up my water spout, you don’t.

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:

He wasn’t quite so happy. In fact I think he may have been on his last legs, so to speak. Being neither venemous nor strategically placed to crawl all over my face while I’m asleep, I let him be.

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:


19 thoughts on “Not up my water spout, you don’t.

    • Poisonous *anything* is scary. You’ll be fine if you hang out in the suburbs Lauri, but if you’re heading into the wilderness it’s good to know the difference between what’s cute and fluffy and what’s going to make you die. I’m quite sure GOF would be pleased to chaperone you. 🙂

  1. I’m familiar with the idea that Australia (being a whole flipping continent, I’m aware this sounds completely American as in “doesn’t have any clue”) has a host of venomous, toxic and what-noughts.

    Interestingly, the area you live in now sounds closer to things we have: brambles by the score, stinging nettle and ticks that rot a hole in your skin and muscle underneath. You will die if left untreated cos your body doesn’t like going about with a softball sized hole in it. Most of what really happens is nuisances–not real dangers here, though.

    • Ew, that fleshrot-tick sounds disgusting. I don’t think many creatures are fatal nowadays, with anti-venom and everyone living so much closer to hospitals etc.

      • Less than 2 years ago, I finally opted for medivac (helicopter ambulance) insurance because if something happens on our farm, you die.

        You’re right. Most people live in suburbs or cities.

    • I don’t *think* we have any tarantulas around these parts…at least I bloody well hope not. I’d call that one a huntsman, though I’m open to correction.

      That snake factoid wouldn’t surprise me. I’m pretty sure 8 of them live in my parents’ roof.

  2. There were a lot of stinging nettles on the farm where we grew up. They’re nasty things. You put the milk from the stem of some other sort of thistle on it to ease the pain. I’m wanting to say the Milk Thistle but that seems to obvious. And the white tail, is that the same as the white cross? bother me as well, I think they hide in your bed. And the idea of funnel webs in the pool always bothered me as well.

    • Nah, if you mean those spiders that sit in the garden with a big white cross in their web – that’s not them. White tails wander around the house and have a white mark on their bum.

      I’ve never heard of the thistle thing. I wonder if it works on other ouchies?

  3. We used to ‘cure’ nettle stings by rubbing dock leaves on them – docks have big, fleshy dark green leaves and always seem to grow close to nettle patches. I always suspected that the cure came about as vigorous rubbing with said leaft squished the tiny nettle hairs that were causing the problem in the first place.

    Did you know that nettles are actually v tasy when cooked (and when cooked they’re not stingy any more …) – they’re like spinach? And v good for you.

    I am never, never coming to Australia. I have spider phobia – even when they’re not poisonous. Snakes, fine; rats, fine; cockroaches, ick but fine … etc. But spiders ……..

    • I had no idea you could eat it like spinach – I wish I’d known that before I sprayed poison all over them. I love free food!

      Oh come on, don’t let the spiders put you off. You’ll see more New Zealanders than spiders, I promise. And there’s all the cute fluffy things, like koalas and bilbies and quokkas and platypi (which will also poison you, but sshh). And the GBP will go a long way.

  4. We lived in Toowoomba for many years and always had issues with red backs, funnel webs and trap door spiders. Mr FD has a real fear of spiders so I was always the one to deal with them, while he went all girlie in a corner. LOL!

    • Urgh, I’ve never lived anywhere with funnel webs or trap doors. Ugly old things – there’s nothing redeeming about chunky, hairy spiders.

      It’s always funny to watch blokes flip out over itty-bitty creatures!

  5. Wow – so much more to worry about there. I actually like spiders but those pictures scared me. We have a few nasty ones here but it’s rare to have trouble with one. Just about the only bad things here are lyme disease, poison ivy and icy roads. I did get a spider bite that made my arm itch like mad and swell up for months, but not even sure what it was, at the time I just hoped it was not a bat.

    I did not know you guys had stinging nettle! My friend taught me to take the juice of a jewelweed plant and drip it onto the stingers, don’t know if that’s the same plant that Nubby means.

    (Ones with org flowers, they grow everywhere by midsummer).

    • Geez Emmy, I’d prefer our snakes and spiders over your lyme disease and scary ice roads any day of the week! Better the devil you know, I guess.

      That jewelweed looks different to what Plubby was talking about, and Jane too…it’s good to know there is a bunch of different cures for it. Not that I’m going to touch one again to put them to the test.

  6. Dear god, and I thought you lived in a lovely part of the world! It’s actually packed to the rafters with stuff that wants to hurt you, kill you or destroy your mind. Pretty much the only bad stuff we have here are nettles and a few mushrooms, none of which are likely to wander into your house and hide in your shoes.

    • “packed to the rafters with stuff that wants to hurt you, kill you or destroy your mind” ? I’ve heard the same thing about the London tube 😉 And I’m going to take a moment to point out SNOW STORMS!! Eep. My spiders and I have been watching the footage on the news and shivering. Hope you’re someplace warm and cosy.

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