In her Health column in the latest Listener, a magazine
with which I have had some slight association, Linley
Boniface cites a 2004 report in the New Zealand
Medical Journal thus:
Widespread public concern about white-tailed
spiders in New Zealand appears to have started
in 1991, when Denis Welch, political writer for
the widely read NZ Listener, was unable to
produce his regular column because of an
alleged white-tailed spider bite.
Enough already with the "alleged." I was bitten all right,
and the spider must have died in the biting, because we
found its corpse later and had it identified by an
arachnologist from the National Museum as a lampona
or Australian white-tailed. It happened at home on a
Saturday afternoon, but it was not till I'd gone in to
Parliament for a Jim Bolger press conference and was
waiting on the ninth floor of the Beehive that I felt my
elbow starting to throb. By the time I was driving home
it had got so painful that I diverted to the hospital and
got myself dosed with anti-histamines at a&e. Even so,
I was flattened for four days, feeling very ill all over, not
just in the elbow, which swelled to the size of a golf ball.
So be on your guard, children, for the beastly lampona:
you'll know it by its long narrow body, the pale stripe
across its back and its slow way of moving over a wall.
Once bitten, twice shy.