"While Australians love to trade on the 'most of our wildlife will kill you' vibe, the reality is that there are very few really dangerous spiders in Australia," Dieter Hochuli, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, told Live Science in an email. "I think it's a myth we perpetuate out of some odd patriotic thing."
Australia's most venomous spiders include the Sydney funnel-web (Atrax robustus) and the redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti). Both are found in forested and urban areas, making contact between these species and humans more likely than some city dwellers might prefer. However, no deaths have been associated with these "deadly" spiders in many decades, according to Hochuli.
No one in Australia has died from being bitten by a Sydney funnel-web spider since 1981, when antivenin treatments became available. Redback antivenin was developed in the 1950s, and no deaths have been reported from these types of spider bites since.
In Brazil, there are three species of wandering spiders - named for their tendency to wander around on the ground looking for food - that are often considered "deadly." Phoneutria fera, P. nigriventer and P. keyserlingi all have bad reputations, but it's extremely rare for these spider bites to cause human deaths, according to Richard Vetter, a retired research associate of entomology at the University of California, Riverside.
A study of Brazilian wandering spider bites conducted in 2000 showed that, of 422 Phoneutria bites, only two resulted in severe envenomation, and both of those cases occurred in children under age 10. One of those cases resulted in the death of a 3-year-old child, but most adults bitten by these arachnids experience mild to moderate symptoms, such as localized pain and vomiting. Some adults experience no symptoms at all, according to the study.
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