Spiders and Other Invertebrates in Australia Aren’t as Deadly as They Seem

Australia is a really incredible place filled with weird and wonderful creatures, and though it is famous for many incredible things, such as the Great Barrier Reef and The Outback, it is also famous for the supposed idea that “everything there is trying to kill you all the time.” 

A group that stands out as “particularly dangerous and deadly” in Australia are the invertebrates, including insects and arachnids, namely wasps, bees, and spiders. Here we will review why they can be harmful, and then explain why the issue isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. 

Arthropods can sometimes be deadly 

Let’s start with bees and wasps. The group hemiptera, which includes, ants, wasps, and spiders, do not often have a venom that is strong enough to kill a person, but they can cause severe and fatal allergic reactions, and if you get stung enough times at once, you could have a fatal reaction even if you aren’t allergic, but we are talking a lot of stings! 

The arachnids, which include spiders and scorpions, do on the other hand have a few species with venom that can prove fatal to the average person, these are known as medically significant arachnids. However, even in Australia, there are only a few that can kill someone 

Why venomous arthropods aren’t as bad as they are made out to be 

This news report with Dr. Ronelle Welton really helps to show that the media blows venomous animals out of proportion. 

Although people do die from bites and stings from arthropods (and snakes), it is almost always treatable. Also, the chance of you dying from an interaction with these villainized creatures is exceptionally lower than the number of people that die from interactions with domestic animals like horses and dogs. 

To look more closely at the numbers, in the study by Dr. Welton from 2000-2013 not a single person died from a spider bite! Even though there were people who required hospitalization, all cases were treatable. In the same study period 27 people died from hornet, wasp, and bee stings, the same number as from snakes, and 5 from ants or ticks. 

Here is where it really gets interesting, over half of the deaths that occured via vanomous creatures happened at home where people could have had access to healthcare. This means that most of these deaths could have been avoided if people had sought out medical care. 

Last and certainly not least, though some of these insects and arachnids are harmful, they are extremely important to the ecosystem and are beneficial not only to nature, but also to people! Bees and wasps are pollinators, and spiders are important apex predators that help control pests. Everything has its place in the world, and we just need to learn how to live in harmony with it!

In conclusion, though there are arthropods that can kill you, they are not as dangerous as they are made out to be. As well, if you are ever bitten by something and are showing symptoms, seek medical attention, it is better safe than sorry!

If you want to help work on your fear of spiders, check out this article on overcoming your fear of spiders! You can also watch the video below!

Written by Kirstynn Joseph

Kirstynn graduated with a Bachelors in Ecology from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada in 2018. She was born in Yukon Territory, and is currently living in Ecuador, where she is working on various projects and exploring as much as she can before she figures out the next big adventure. She is passionate about the outdoors, about nature and conservation, and of course, science! She loves writing, art and photography and strives to share the wonders of our big mysterious world with as many people as she can.

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