Our country has a reputation for being home to some of the world’s most deadly creatures, but when it comes to insects, the majority are not harmful to humans. Here, we profile the top 10 most dangerous.
#1 Funnel-web spiders
Regarded as the most dangerous spider in the world and considered by some as the most deadly. On record there have been a total of 13 deaths linked to the funnel-web spider. Before we all start moving from the east coast of Australia (because that’s their ’hood), it’s important to know this number has not changed since an anti-venom was created in 1981. Phew! Contrary to popular belief, funnel-webs can’t jump or swim.
#2 Redback Spiders
Within spider circles, the redback is known as the ‘thief’. While they typically feed on other insects, these urban-dwellers (especially the large females) are prone to taking stored food items from other webs.
#3 Paralysis Ticks
The paralysis tick injects venom when it attaches itself to humans, releasing — you guessed it — a paralysis toxin. Rest assured, paralysis doesn’t just happen overnight; an adult female has to be feeding for four days or more (grossed out, yet?) before the tick can begin to cause havoc on your system.
We all know and love these honey-makers, but for the 1–2 per cent of the population known to suffer an allergic reaction to the sting of a honeybee, the consequences can be lethal. What’s interesting about the honeybee is that it’s the only species of bee to die after it attacks.
#5 Bull Ants
The very large and alert bull ant is able to track and follow its target from a 1m distance. The ant’s potent venom-loaded sting can be especially harmful to those who may have an allergic reaction.
#6 Giant Centipedes
The nocturnal giant centipede can be found throughout most of Australia, except for Tasmania. It has modified claws called ‘forcipules’, which curve around its head to deliver toxic venom into its prey.
The mosquito is another dangerous enemy. Did you know that male mosquitoes feed on nectar from flowers? It’s only the females who drink our blood. They break the skin and suck up blood with their long mouthparts, leaving us with an itchy bite and sometimes a disease it has passed on.
#8 European Wasp
A highly diverse species, wasps often buzz around the garden, or the home, and their stings can cause extreme reactions in sensitive individuals. European wasps, in particular, can become aggressive and may attack when their nest is disturbed. If stung, use a cold pack to reduce the pain and seek medical attention if there are any signs of an extreme or allergic reaction.
Flies taste things with their feet. They walk over all kinds of rotting food and plants, collecting germs as they go. This is where flies pose a health hazard; flies can carry bacteria and spread all kinds of horrible diseases to us humans.
#10 White-tailed Spider
The white-tailed spider has a long, dark body with a white tip and four white spots on its upper abdomen. Most active at night, white-tailed spiders are hunters that live both outdoors (under bark, rocks, leaf litter and logs) and indoors (in nooks and crannies). They mostly hunt other spiders, including redbacks, daddy-long-legs, black house spiders and curtain-web spiders. Their bites are controversially linked to ulceration but brainiacs are still investigating.
This information is sourced from the Australian Museum.