That's all we need, something else creepy to worry about.

Redbacks find NZ to their liking
By PAUL EASTON - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 09 October 2008

An invasion of poisonous redback spiders looms as climate change makes more New Zealand regions hotter and tempting to the sun-loving Aussie pests.

Redback spiders deliver a nasty but rarely fatal bite. They have been reported since 1980 in Central Otago - so far the only area an established population exists in New Zealand.

But new research from AgResearch spider expert Cor Vink shows Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay, Canterbury, Nelson and Marlborough could all become home to redbacks as the weather gets warmer and drier. "Basically, anywhere grapes are grown," Dr Vink said.

The spiders liked hot summers, dry soil conditions, and could tolerate surprisingly cold winters.

Dr Vink has used climate data from the past 30 years to spot areas tempting to redbacks. "With the climate changing and getting hotter, it's only going to suit them even more."

Redbacks were thought to spread by hitchhiking rides with humans, especially on metal or steel that heated up in the sun.

"You might have a barbecue in Central Otago, throw it in the car and go to Christchurch, and a redback could be hiding under the lid."

The redback is related to the native katipo, meaning it could happily set up home in their habitat, displacing or even interbreeding with them. There was some evidence interbreeding may have already happened, Dr Vink said.

A katipo unearthed north of Gisborne was found to contain redback dna.

The female redback, which is bigger than the male, has a distinctive red stripe on its shiny black, thumbnail-sized body.

A redback's bite causes sweating and pain, which slowly becomes unbearable.

"The anecdote I've heard is that you won't die, you'll just feel like you're going to," Dr Vink said.

From here.