Deadly or not? App to identify Australian spiders

A funnel web spider gives a Mexican wave in celebration of saving humans instead of killing them.

A funnel web spider gives a Mexican wave in celebration of saving humans instead of killing them. Photo: Getty

If just seeing a spider gets you in a tangle, listen up.

Alan Henderson and his daughter Caitlin climbed under park benches and reached to the roof in toilet blocks to snap Australia’s commonly-encountered spiders to help others identify the creepy crawlies.

The pair hit the beaten track from Melbourne to northern Queensland over six days to catalogue spiders for the new identification app, Spidentify.

Instead of being riddled with fear, these daredevils searched high and low to find spiders.

“Just about everywhere we went they were there,” specialist macro photographer Mr Henderson said.

“We have been inundated with people who are just interested or freaked out by spiders … and they just want to know what spider it is. Spiders are not as bad as you may think.”

Mr Henderson said no one in Australia had died from spider venom since 1979 after the Sydney funnel-web spider anti-venom was introduced in the 1980s.

“Unfortunately there’s so much misinformation out there about our native spiders. We’re told they chase and attack us, they’ve got flesh-eating bites. These myths spread like wildfire,” he said.

The app guides people how to identify a spider against descriptions of more than 250 species, has a colour-coded danger rating and allows users to browse region, spider family and habitat.

Ms Henderson works at Melbourne’s Minibeast Wildlife, which has commissioned the new app.

Mr Henderson is famously known for his work in invertebrate education in Australia including Melbourne Museum’s popular exhibition, Bugs Alive!


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