The white-tailed spider has a long cigar-shaped, dark grey abdomen with a creamy-white speck on the tip. The legs usually have a brownish hue. A large female may reach up to 20mm in body length, males around 12mm. Tufts of specialised scopulate hairs on the ends of their legs allow them to walk easily on smooth or sloping surfaces. Their bites have been controversially implicated in causing severe skin ulceration in humans.
White-tailed spiders are found in cool dark areas such as under bark, leaf-litter, etc. It will readily utilise buildings and is common in private houses but is not often seen because the web is small and temporary, and the spider is most active at night. They are slow moving spiders which wander great distances looking for prey.
The white-tailed spider’s main prey is other spiders. It is an active hunter, stalking the spiders while they are in their own webs. The black house spider in particular is a favourite food item.
The female white-tail lays around 80-100 pink eggs in a silk sack and guards the ‘nest’ until the spiderlings emerge. On hatching, the little spiders disperse to find their first meal.