Bedevilled: A violin spider

Johannesburg - They’re coming. Driven by heavy rains and hot weather, they’re hitting the burbs, where they are stalking human prey. A button-sized spider, with a big bite and six eyes burning with revenge.

One of their kind left a family of six dead, after they happened to drink tea that contained its venom. Another spider left a man with a wound on his finger that was so bad, it was black with rot and gangrene.

Nothing will stop the invasion of the violin spiders.

It’s time to invest in a can of insecticide, a pair of heavy stomping boots – or don’t believe that e-mail doing the rounds. The latest violin spider e-mail hoax advises people not to leave water in their kettles overnight. The story goes that a family of six died after they boiled water that happened to contain a dead violin spider that had crept into the kettle overnight.

It’s rubbish, says spider expert and author Jonathan Leeming. Spider venom ingested won’t kill you, he has to explain over and over.

The violin spider is again getting a bad rap. As the saying goes: “Large and hairy equals scary”. But this spider isn’t bent on world domination; in fact, it isn’t even that common.

“In Joburg we have found them around the suburbs of Kensington B and Sandringham. We haven’t found them in houses in Pretoria or Cape Town,” Leeming says.

“And it’s in Cape Town and Pretoria where people claim they are constantly getting bitten.”

Other species of local violin spiders live under rocks and logs.

Leeming says it’s often medical doctors who blame bites or infections on violin spiders. “If you look at some of these supposed bites, they are more often bacterial infections,” he notes.

But in the unlikely event that you happen to be bitten by a violin spider, all is not lost.

“You don’t usually need medical help. What you need to watch out for is if the wound becomes infected – if that happens, you might need antibiotics.” - The Star