The Deadly Red-Backed Spider.
THE sad death of the child, Thomas Yelverton, of Tomlie, near Mansfield, who died from the effects of a bite inflicted by a black spider, once more calls atten- tion to the exceedingly venomous wounds inflicted by one variety of spider found in Victoria.
While the bites of all spiders are more or less venomous, there is only one Vic- torian spider whose bite is to be dreaded and feared. This is the Katipo, whose scientific name is Latrodectus Scelio, and which is common both in this colony and New Zealand. It is about half-an-inch in length, and black in colour, with a red stroke, down its back, which renders it impossible to confuse it with any other variety. The "bite" is not inflicted with the mouth, but with a spur of small claws situated near its head, and supplied with venom by a pair of glands in the same locality. There art many well authenticated in- stances of the serious effects of the katipo's bite. Dr. Mueller, of Yackand- andah, describes a case which came under his notice of a young and healthy farmer, who was bitten in the ankle by this insect which benumbed his legs to such an ex- tent as to prevent him walking without assistance, and which rendered him for a short time a complete lunatic. Dr. Mueller effected a speedy cure in this case by hypodermic injetions of strych- nine and cocaine, the patient being al- most completely cured in a single night. Another case of the same kind, which extended over two years, was attended by Dr Sprinithorpe, in which an athletic was bitten on the right hand, and, as a conse- quence, lost power in his hands and legs, the muscles becoming quite wasted, and his sight being temporarily much impared. The principal signs of the bite of this spider are loss of power and excessive per spiration. Several other cases besides that of Thomas Yelverton, in which in- fants hare been bitten by this spider have terminated fatally, complete collapse usually starting in some hours after the bite has been inflicted ; and the bite of a few other spiders are supposed to be dan- gerous to delicate infant.
With the exception of the bite of the katipo, however, no serious results are likely to result from spider bites, and the chances of being bitten by that insect are very slight, as unless interfered with, it will not show fight, and usually chooses the most inaccessible places for its home, only comming out to seek its prey towards evening. The so-called tarantula, whose proper name is vaconia. and which is quite a different species from the tarantula found in Italy, though a much more savage and dangerous looking creature than the katipo, should rather be treated as a friend than as a foe, as it is quite harmless, and on account of its large size and voracious habits is one of the most useful of spiders, killing large quantities of other more harmful and troublesome insects.