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Expert warns summer spider season has started: 'Encounters likely'

It’s officially spider season in southern Australia which means many of us will be seeing more of these eight-legged arachnids around our homes.

Graham Milledge, who is an Arachnology Collection Manager at the Australian Museum, told Yahoo News Australia that spider season has begun for most parts of Australia.

Mr Milledge said this is the time of year spiders emerge to help capture pesky household insects and flies.

Spider hangs in a web during sunset. Source: Getty Images
People are wondering whether spider season has come early this year. Source: Getty Images

“This is the time of year that spider populations normally increase, with rising temperatures and prey abundance,” Mr Milledge explained.

Spiders are the most widely distributed venomous creatures in Australia, with an estimated 10,000 species across the country.

Even though many of us fear spiders, they are actually less life-threatening than snakes or sharks, and even bees.

When does spider season start in Australia?

According to Mr Milledge, spider "season" starts in spring in southern Australia, while northern Australia is a bit less clear as temperatures are warmer year-round – but, populations likely increase during the wet season from November to April.

While you may notice an increase in spider populations throughout the warmer months, Mr Milledge also warns that adverse weather, such as flooding, may cause some spiders to seek shelter inside homes and buildings.

Residents of the Australian region of Gippsland, Victoria, can certainly attest to this fact after the area was shrouded in layers of gossamer cobwebs following severe flooding in June.

Large spiderwebs blanket trees and grass in Victoria. Source: Facebook
Huge spiderwebs were seen between Sale and Longford in the Gippsland region in Victoria after flooding in the area earlier this year. Source: Facebook

Similarly, residents of the mid-north coast of NSW reported “carpets of brown” they witnessed as thousands of spiders fled the rising floodwaters and scrambled to safety.

Types of spiders people will encounter during spider season

When asked what types of species people are most likely to encounter during this time, Mr Milledge said that people tend to notice the larger species, such as various orb weavers and huntsman spiders.

“The warmer months tend to be the mating season for funnel-webs and trapdoors, so you are more likely to encounter wandering males,” explained Mr Milledge.

Meanwhile, other spiders people may find hiding in a dark corner of their home, or in their garden, include daddy long legs, black house spiders and white-tailed spiders.

Tips for keeping spiders away from your home

Mr Milledge also had some advice for any arachnophobes who would like to keep spiders out of their homes.

“If you are an arachnophobe, block any obvious gaps where they might enter, such as under doors,” he explained.

Person wearing gloves captures a spider safely in a glass with paper underneath. Source: Getty Images
The safest way to capture a spider is to cover it with a container, slide a piece of paper under it, and take it outside. Source: Getty Images

Additional tips to keep spiders outside include spraying white vinegar around your home, planting mint near your entryways, sprinkling cedar chips outside your house and minimising clutter.

However, for those who do encounter a live spider in their home, Mr Milledge says to "capture it in a safe manner and release it outside".

How to capture a spider safely

According to the Australian Geographic website, the safest way to capture a spider is to carefully cover it with a container, slide a piece of paper under it, and take it outside to enjoy some fresh air.

“If you are not an arachnophobe, leave them be, except if you suspect it to be dangerous,” said Mr Milledge.

Dangerous spiders to avoid coming into contact with include redbacks, funnel-webs and trapdoor spiders.

If you do find one of these spiders in or around your home, then you can call pest control, the Australian Reptile Park, or the Poisons Information Hotline (13 11 26 ).

The Australian Reptile Park also accepts donations of funnel-webs for their spider venom program, with several drop-off points located across NSW.

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