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13 January 2006
Biosecurity New Zealand is asking residents in the Hillmorton and Hoon Hay
suburbs of Christchurch to be on the lookout for Huntsman spiders after three
home owners in the area reported finding the spiders on their properties.
This Huntsman spider species is most commonly found in southern Victoria in
Australia and is easily identifiable by its large size and colour. It usually
grows to between 5-7 cm in size, including the legs. The two front pairs of
legs have black and white bands, and are longer than the back two pairs.
Huntsman spiders have a slightly flattened appearance and are more active at
night than during the day. They eat mainly insects.
Biosecurity New Zealand senior adviser Sonya Bissmire said the first
Huntsman, a male, was found at a Halswell Road property in late December.
Another, a female, was found at a nearby property on 4 January. The latest find
was made this morning, and is thought to be a pregnant female of the same
species, and is larger than the first two. It was made after the
homeowner's pets showed interest in something in the curtains. The three
spiders were found one each in a bedroom, a living room, and immediately
outside a house entrance.
"Although the sites are close together, we couldn't link the
first two finds, but the discovery of a pregnant female means it's much
more likely there will be others," Ms Bissmire said.
"We know that some people will be alarmed, particularly by their
size, but they are not a human health risk. They are lightening fast, and can
move in any direction, but they're more likely to run away rather than
bite. However, like any spider bite, an allergic reaction is a possibility,
though no greater than any other spider.
"The people who have found them so far have done exactly the right
thing and let us know, but we need to find out if there are any more out there.
If someone finds a Huntsman they could call 0800 80 99 66. If they are able to,
they should catch the spider in a see-though plastic container (large) with a
Door-knocking in the immediate area, both to distribute information and
answer any resident's questions was planned for next week. Options for
eradicating a population, if there is one, will be assessed when further
information is gathered both from searches of the area, and from spider experts
in Australia, Ms Bissmire said.
Senior Communications Adviser
Biosecurity New Zealand
027 229 9145