Pest Control Melbourne
The A to Z of Pests in Melbourne. Part 6.
This instalment in our continuing series about pests around Melbourne focuses on a collection of spiders and fish that, in reality, are not fish at all! Ben’s Bees is a small family-owned business committed to ethical bee keeping and quick and efficient service. If you have a problem with bees or wasps, or perhaps would like to try your hand at keeping bees, you can contact us at any time.
Despite their fish-like shape, metallic silvery colour, and a method of locomotion that that resembles wriggling, silverfish are, in fact, small wingless insects of the family Lepismatidae. Melbourne is home to several similar types of silverfish; both cosmopolitan and native species. Silverfish are related to the most primitive known insects; they are nocturnal (avoiding light where possible) and predominantly herbivorous. Males and females engage in an elaborate courtship ritual prior to the male producing a sperm capsule, which the female uses to fertilise eggs internally. Although they can outrun most predatory insects, silverfish cannot climb smooth surfaces, which is why they frequently become trapped in wash basins and bathtubs. Native species can often be found under the bark of trees or in leaf litter, while in the home, silverfish favour dark, humid environments which are seldom disturbed – such as wardrobes and bookshelves.
Domestic silverfish can become a serious pest because they feed upon the starchy substances contained in paper and photographs, book bindings, wall paper (and wall paper paste), fabrics and textiles, glues and other materials. Silverfish may go undetected in the wall cavities of your Melbourne residence, where they consume the paper coating of plasterboard. Fortunately, although these pests can cause significant damage to property, and may also contaminate food items, silverfish do not transmit disease.
An infestation of silverfish can be very difficult to eradicate, as their preferred refuges are not always easy to access. These insects are reputed to live up to eight years, and can exist for more than a year without food! Chemicals such as pyrethrins can be effective as surface sprays but may not kill eggs. Apparently, silverfish dislike the smell of several natural products and will eschew cedar oil, basil, cinnamon, citrus and lavender. A number of simple housekeeping practices may also be implemented, including improving ventilation and reducing humidity, storing unused clothing in sealed vacuum bags and disposing of unnecessary paper. A number of Melbourne pest control businesses offer professional treatments.
There are roughly 2,000 species of spiders in Australia, and although most use venom to subdue they prey, the vast majority are not dangerous to humans, and in many cases their fangs are unable to pierce our skin. The spiders typically encountered around the Melbourne home have a wide-ranging distribution.
The Black House Spider is very familiar to Melbourne residents, and is especially common in dry, protected locations. Black House Spiders are characterised by a ‘messy’ web. Although not lethal, the bite can cause severe pain, and induce vomiting and headaches.
The Wolf Spider is a fast-moving, nocturnal, burrow-dwelling species measuring up to 30mm in body length, with a distinctive, prominent eye cluster and longitudinal body striping that vaguely resembles a Union Jack. Wolf Spiders are most often found in Melbourne gardens and are capable of producing a very painful bite.
Huntsman Spiders are large and very fast and are often visible on walls at night. They are quite shy, and although usually harmless can deliver a painful bite. Huntsman Spiders are useful predators of insect pests around the home.
Ironically, the Red-back Spider does not always possess a conspicuous red stripe on its abdomen. Sometimes, Red-back Spiders can be particularly common in parts of Melbourne. They prefer sheltered, shady areas such as verandas and sheds, or piles of rubbish and old furniture. Only the female (which, like many spiders, is considerably larger than the male) can inflict a dangerous and potentially fatal bite. Excruciating pain may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and headaches. An effective antivenom is available, and there have been no recorded fatalities since this was introduced.
White-tail Spiders may be identified by a white spot at the tip of their abdomen, and grow to about 20mm in body length. White-tail Spiders favour cool locations and may also take advantage of vacant shoes or other convenient hiding places. The bite results in nausea and a burning sensation, and in rare instances can be linked to serious death of tissue, or necrosis.
Australia’s most dangerous spider, the Sydney Funnel-web, is not found in Victoria. There are, however, funnel-web spiders around Melbourne, along with Mouse Spiders, which are often confused for funnel-webs. Mouse Spiders live in deep burrows, often near water, and the painful bite should be treated as dangerous.
If you believe you have been bitten by a spider, you should seek immediate medical attention. Catch the spider and take it with you for identification if possible. Do not have anything to eat or drink. Recommended first aid for Red-back and White-tailed Spider bites consists of washing the area around the bite site and applying an ice pack to relieve symptoms
To avoid spiders becoming a pest, check fly screens and consider installing draught-strips to external doors. Do not leave car windows open unnecessarily and clean up items left lying around that could provide refuge. If you are gardening, always wear gloves, and appropriate clothing and footwear. You may decide to consult a professional pest controller, but remember that fumigation and sprays are far less effective for nomadic species such as White-tail and Huntsman Spiders.
For Pest control Melbourne call Ben on 0437077792