I found this Redback spider when I lifted a flower pot in my backyard this morning. Usually I leave it alone but I quickly trapped it in a glass jar, since I remembered a newly arrived Singaporean family living in a nearby suburb has requested me to show them a live Redback if I come across one. I quickly rushed it to their house but I could not persuade the Mrs of the house to take a closer look even I was holding it in a glass jar in my hand. She then rushed into her house and came back holding a can of insect spray. No way, I will allow this beautiful Australian icon from being killed although the female red-back is certainly not adversed to making a meal out of the hapless, smaller male of the species after mating. I can't help but to think that our Singaporean mum must have grown up watching Mortein advertisements and now took it as her maternal duty to eradicate every flying and crawling insects in the world. I can understand her fear, as the Redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) is one of Australia's most venomous spiders. It's found across Australia including Tasmania. The redback spider is closely related to the black widow spider of the United States and the katipo of New Zealand
It is often found in outdoor dunnys, letter boxes, under logs and rocks and other dark areas. The Redback spider is most active at dusk and during the night as the weather gets warmer. It is easy to spot a Redback because the female red-back is black with a distinctive "hour glass" red or orange marking on its back, hence its name. Only the female bite is dangerous. They can cause serious illness and have caused deaths. However, since Redback Spiders rarely leave their webs, humans are not likely to be bitten unless a body part such as a hand is put directly into the web, and because of their small jaws many bites are ineffective. Please be careful and wear a pair gloves when doing your gardening chores.