Another dangerous season for Funnel Web and White-tail spiders is almost upon us, and the Rotary Club of Katoomba is preparing for it with their nation-wide “Dangerous Spiders Public Awareness” life-saving community service project.
Spokesman and co-ordinator of the project, Rotarian Rex Gilroy, has received numbers of reports of Funnel Web spiders making early appearances over a wide area of the Blue Mountains since the beginning of August, while there have been many White-tail spiders captured while on the move in homes throughout much of the winter.
“With the onset of Spring we can expect an infestation of Funnel Web and White-tails throughout the Blue Mountains and in the case of the ‘Blue Mountains Funnel Web’ [our own local species], we must expect an even greater danger as the mating season of this species gets under way [ie November-March]. Katoomba Rotary Club urges the public to take every preventative precaution to ensure safety around the home”, says Rex.
The Club’s spider awareness booklet, which has been available since the project’s inception, has been extremely popular with the public and can be obtained by sending a donation to cover postage to The Rotary Club of Katoomba “Dangerous Spiders Public Awareness”, PO Box 54, Katoomba NSW 2780. All moneys raised from excess postage donations goes to Rotary charities within Australia.
The booklet is fully illustrated with photos of every species likely to be found around the home, including the Funnel Web, White-tail, Red-back and Eastern Mouse Spider and other species, together with their life history details and habits, preventative measures information and a step-by-step illustrated first-aid procedure section.
Concerned home owners can also obtain advice on any spider problems they have on the club’s “Dangerous Spiders Hotline”; Phone 02 4782 3441, operated by Entomologist-Naturalist Rex Gilroy, who is currently celebrating 50 years as a spider researcher, 48 years of which he has spent on the Blue Mountains researching our local species, particularly the “Blue Mountains Funnel Web”, for which he was instrumental in obtaining the then newly-developed Funnel Web anti-venom for Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial hospital in 1980.
This enabled bite victims to be treated locally rather than having to be flown by air-ambulance to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital, which was a time-consuming, life-threatening process. As a result of this, a number of Funnel Web bite victims were successfully treated. Club President Kevin Lawrenson, urges the Blue Mountains community to give this project its full support by taking advantage of the services offered. The project has also received praise from District governor Harley Tarrant.
“Our project has, in its first 12 months of operation, already proven to be a major life-saving one of which Rotary can be proud of”, said Rex Gilroy.