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  • peter-macinnis 20 Sep 2010 at 19:02
    An almost use, and so listed as the earliest use of "redback spider".

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4 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections


In a recent issue of the Lismore news- paper it was stated that a man had been bitten by a small red spider, and that his condition was critical. This spider

in probably the Red Backed species, which though small in size is certainly harmful, and we may regard it as our most poi- sonous species. The bite of this spider causes great suffering, and some weeks may elapse, says Dr. F. Tidswell, before the victim quite recovers from its toxic effects. Up to the present no death has been recorded as a result of its bite. Dr. Tidswell, after a number of experiments conducted at the Board of Health, Sydney, writes: "The results may be taken as in- dicating the improbability of a fatal issue from poisoning by Latrodectus hasseltii." The tarantula is certainly poisonous, though the toxic qualities of its poison have probably been exaggerated. The Italians believed that a person bitten by a tarantula sank into a lethargy from which he could only be aroused by the playing of music. This caused him to

execute a wild and frenzied dance, which had the effect of working the poison out of his system. This choreographic remedy gave rise to the dancing mania known as tarantism, which spread like an epidemic over Europe during the Middle Ages, and finds its parallel in the jazz craze of the present day. The tarantella, a dance performed by the Italians to-day, is said to be a relic of that which gave relief to   the victims of the tarantula's bite.