Redback spider bite - what to do

Article | Updated 8 months ago

Redback spiders (Latrodectus hasseltii) are extremely common in Australia, and are often found in considerable numbers around houses and other buildings in many towns and cities in Western Australia. They rarely bite humans, and when disturbed, they usually try to escape or feign death by curling its legs and dropping to the ground.

Image of a Red-back spider sitting on a leaf

Redback Spider
Image copyright WA Museum 

The bite of a Redback Spider is capable of causing death, especially in small children, and any bite should be treated with the utmost caution.

The bite may produce the following symptoms:

  • Intense localised pain, with swelling and sweating starting five minutes after the bite
  • Pain and swelling may be experienced over the body after about half an hour
  • Headache, nausea and vomiting may occur after one hour - profuse sweating is common.

The following first aid is recommended:

  • Keep patient calm
  • Apply ice packs (such as a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) to minimise pain and swelling
  • Seek medical aid - anti-venene will be administered if symptoms are severe
  • Do not use a tourniquet or restrictive bandage, or excise or incise the bite.

Further Information

Find out more information about Redback spiders on the Atlas of Living Australia