(13 January 2017) Never lean carelessly against any palm in our local rainforests. The Northern Tree Dwelling funnel web spider is a common inhabitant of our woods and inhabits the trunks of the piccabeen palms, actually often at ‘human shoulder height’. We see them regularly in Knoll National Park at particular locations, very close to the walking track. The spider sits in the narrow funnel waiting for prey to touch the web. When this happens, she rushes out, captures the insect prey and returns into the funnel’s mouth. All of this in the blink of an eye.
Is it really ‘the deadliest’? It depends on the definition, because as is the case with snakes, that term is defined by a combination of potency of the venom and behaviour of the creature. Many sources and authors call this spider the world’s deadliest, others the world’s second deadliest. Does it really matter?
We tease the spider with a little twig, touching the threats radiating from the funnel web (never do this yourself, unless you know what you’re doing!). The spider thinks that a prey has arrived, comes out, discovers that it is fooled and immediately retracts into the funnel. It happens in a flash. Flash light helps to ‘stop’ the very fast movement. But it needs many pictures to get the good one because of the very short time the spider shows itself. In the photo at the right I was too late, but at least it does show the entire funnelweb.