Let’s face it; Australia has quite a scary reputation around the world for its abundance of creepy crawlies. Thousands of species of spiders, insects and snakes call our huge country home, which can be pretty terrifying for international tourists hoping to get some sun on our shores without facing the prospect of being bitten or stung on their holiday.
The good news is, contact with most of Australia’s assortment of smaller land or sea life is usually not fatal, but can be pretty uncomfortable or painful.
We’ve chosen two of the most common Aussie pests on land and in water and offer tips on what to do if you have the misfortune of coming across either of them.
There are only two varieties of spiders in Australia that have caused death in humans – the Funnel Web and Redback spiders. Even then, an actual case of either of these causing a fatality hasn’t been recorded in the country since 1979, and the odds of coming across one of the species is relatively slim.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act quickly if you suspect you’ve been bitten by one. Antivenom is available for victims of these two breeds, so get yourself to a hospital quick-smart. In terms of being bitten by other kinds of spiders, you will suffer a painful bite or sting which can cause significant swelling, and in particularly bad cases, nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, muscle spasms and possible unconsciousness. Start basic first aid by applying ice to the location of the bite and firmly bandage the area before seeking professional help.
For the most part, however, Australia’s biggest and scariest-looking spiders, like the Huntsman, are in fact, harmless.
These sea-dwelling creatures are mesmerising and pretty to look at, but definitely one to avoid.
Although there are many species of jellyfish, the Bluebottle is the most notorious on our shores. Depending on how long the Bluebottle has to wrap its tentacles around the affected area of your body will determine the extent of the injury caused.
The pain caused is severe, but usually subsides within an hour or two, leaving behind a swollen and sometimes itchy red line from the tentacle contact. Further symptoms are rare, but treating the location of the sting immediately is your best course of action. Remove any remaining tentacles from the site while wearing gloves or using tweezers, wash the area with sea water, and then apply pressure with either a hot or cold pack – whichever is on hand. Both are proven to work at bringing down pain and swelling.
The Box Jellyfish is the sucker you want to avoid the most – it’s the life-threatening species of jellyfish, and a sting requires urgent medical attention. On your way to the hospital or clinic, apply vinegar to the location of the sting – it helps to stop the remaining tentacles from releasing any more venom.
The important thing to remember is that Australian insects have a bad reputation but are, for the most part, harmless. If you can tell the most common species apart, you stand the best chance of protecting yourself.
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