Wildfires have devastated Australia in recent weeks, scorching vast tracts, leaving more than 20 people dead and snuffing out the lives of more than 1 billion animals, according to some estimates. But, says one wildlife park outside Sydney, the venomous Australian funnel-web spider is flourishing.

In the wake of the fires, which are still burning in parts of Victoria and New South Wales, rains have drenched southeastern Australia over the past week. In a Facebook post Tuesday, the Australian Reptile Park — which is in Somersby, about an hour’s drive from Sydney — warned residents that “recent wet weather followed by hot days have created perfect conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive.”


🚨WARNING! FUNNEL-WEB SEASON IS HERE! 🚨 We are issuing a message of warning to the public as recent wet weather conditions followed by hot days have created perfect conditions for funnel-web spiders to thrive. We're asking for any collected spiders to be brought to the park to contribute to our lifesaving antivenom program! 🕷️

Posted by Australian Reptile Park on Monday, January 20, 2020

“Warning,” read the notice posted online. “Funnel web spider season is here.”

Experts say the blazes merely postponed the inevitable.

“There is, in general, a funnel-web spider season, and it had been delayed,” said Jonathan Coddington, the curator of arachnida and myriapoda at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “Now they’ve got a bunch of rain, and so the funnel-web are coming out of the ground.”

“Spiders like moist conditions,” he added.

The spiders have emerged for a reason. “In particular, male funnel-webs will start to venture, looking for a female funnel-web spider to mate with,” said Dan Rumsey of Australian Reptile Park.

The funnel-web spider, classified as “medium to large” by the Australian Museum, has become somewhat infamous because of the venom that some species in the family possess. Sydney real estate listings track funnel-web spider density by region. “The more expensive the area, the greater the funnel-web population,” the museum noted on its website.

But no deaths related to funnel-webs have been reported since 1981, thanks in part to the development of an antivenin that year. (Australian Reptile Park supplies much of the venom for the antidote in the area.)

“Australians have a lot more to worry about right now than spiders,” said Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum in Seattle.