Monday, September 17, 2012

Some Occupational Hazards of the Vineyard

Working in and around the vineyard can have its wildlife problems.
I am ever on the watch for snakes. There are red belly blacks around and while quite timid they can become aggressive when cornered or trodden on early in the season when they are a bit slow getting out of the way.
We had the first of the season in our back yard the other morning, a big one, about 2m long. A bite from them is an immediate emergency drive to the hospital.
Also ticks, leeches and wasps can be a bit of a nuisance.
It's only when you are doing some digging that another danger becomes apparent.

                     I found a suspicious hole the other day when doing some remedial work on the post stays and poured some dilute acid down. This morning I found a dead spider by the hole.
It was either the really venomous funnel web spider or perhaps a mouse spider. It's hard to tell the difference.
Both can give you a nasty bite and the funnel web is renowned for its highly toxic and fast acting venom.

The male of Atrax robustus, the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, is probably responsible for all recorded deaths (13) and many medically serious bites. However no deaths have been recorded since the introduction of an anti venom in 1981. In the picture below you can see the quite large fangs.

Some mouse spiders have a very toxic venom too and a bite can be potentially as dangerous as that of the funnel web. Fortunately funnel-web spider anti venom has proven effective in cases of mouse spider bite.
We are aware that the antivenin is carried by our local hospital.
A further inspection found a few more holes around the place so really it is a matter now of being a little bit vigilant and wearing gloves when working around the places where they may live.

No comments: