My Grandma used to say this old rhyme:
The redback spider is a curse,
Just one bite will send you off in a hearse.
Between 1870, when they were first identified, and 1956, when the antivenom was developed, there were 13 known deaths from redback bite. Bites are relatively common, as the spiders like our back yards; in fact five people required treatment for bites in NSW on the 15th of March this year.
I noticed this attractive young Latrodectus hasselti in the top of the chooks' water container today. She's only small -- that blue cap is about 3cm across. Big redbacks have a 1cm abdomen and would therefore fill the lid. I think youth might account for the patterning of the abdomen too; older redbacks tend to favour a Little Black Dress with a single red stripe. More information on our poisonous little friend here.
Redbacks have a very distinctive tangled web, with lots of three-way joins:
I think this tiny fellow wrapping the sandwiches is the young lady's boyfriend. His is a short life: redbacks are a feminist species and usually eat their mate as part of the breeding process.
Both spiders met an untimely death after these photos were taken.