Spider bite a scare for mum
By BELINDA F SCOTT
AN Emerald Beach woman has had a lucky escape after being bitten by a funnelweb spider while gardening at her home.
The woman, who did not wish to be identified, was gathering up leaves while gardening with her children when a funnelweb spider the size of a 20-cent coin latched on to her, biting the top side of her left hand near her little finger.
Her husband wrapped her arm from the fingertips to the elbow in a compression bandage and took her to the Coffs Harbour Health Campus. He also identified and captured alive the pitch-black spider.
Emergency department staff monitored the woman's condition and kept her under observation as well as confirming the spider was a young female funnelweb.
Tests showed the woman had not been injected with the spider's venom and was allowed to return home after six hours' observation.
Her husband said his wife had to shake her hand several times to get the spider off, but she described the bite as less painful than a bee sting.
"I thought as soon as you were bitten you were poisoned, but the hospital staff said only about 30 per cent of bites have venom and most people who are poisoned show symptoms within 20 minutes," he said.
He said because of the effects of the spider antivenene, it was only given when venom was confirmed.
"They cut off the compression bandage and looked at the hairs on her arm ? the poison affects the nervous system and apparently if the hair follicles stand up it is a sign of the poison," he said.
The man said unlike him, his wife was fond of spiders and had planned to release the forgiving funnelweb back into bushland, but unfortunately the young arachnid had become lost in the hospital system and had not been returned to her.
Another Coffs Coast resident to have a spider adventure is Coffs Harbour's Gregory Spies, who found a female Sydney funnelweb spider to add to his insect collection last week.
Sixteen-year-old Gregory said he saw a big hole near the garage of his Deborah Close home and captured the spider when it escaped from the hole after he tipped water into it.
He killed the spider with a drop of petrol and has preserved it in methylated spirits.
Gregory said he was able to identify the spider from its colour, shape and markings with the help of staff from the Rose Avenue Veterinary Clinic and their life-size spider chart.
The young insect researcher said the Sydney funnelwebs, which have a differently shaped and marked shield on their back, were not common on the Coffs Coast and this was the first he had seen.