“Forget sharks and crocodiles: the real menace at this time of year, at least for suburban Sydneysiders, is a backyard spider whose bite can kill you in the space of two hours. Insect experts have warned that the city is being invaded by funnel-webs, considered one of the world’s most aggressive and poisonous spiders. A reptile park north of Sydney where people can drop off captured specimens, and where they are milked of their venom to make antidote, has received more than 40 males in recent weeks. Males are deadlier than females. A lengthy dry period, followed by unseasonable downpours and high humidity over the Christmas break, is blamed for the plague. ‘We’ve had a long spell of very warm weather combined with rain,’ said Mary Rayner, general manager of the Australian Reptile Park. ‘They are starting to come in thick and fast.’ The Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, has also reported unusually large numbers of the feared arachnids this summer.”
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