Welcome To The Country
We moved from the city to the country a few years ago. I grew up in a semi country location so I’m no stranger to the bugs and beasties that nature has to offer. Bees in the garden, slugs on the grass and worms on the path – not a problem. Spiders in the bath and cats doing the meh meh meh noise at flies in the kitchen – no issue with that either. However, one day a year or so after moving in I noticed a spider on the outside of one of the windows.
That’s a big one, I thought and then forgot about it.
A couple of days later, on the same window I saw a massive web with lots of little flies caught up in it. Hmmmm, someone’s been busy I thought and again, I forgot about it.
A few more days passed and when I next remembered to look I saw the busy spider in its web eating a rather large fly.
Gross, I thought and examined the spider more.
It didn’t look like the spiders I had seen before. Usually, the big spiders I’d known were big because they had long legs. This one had a big, big body with fangs to match. This is the point you would think I wouldn’t just walk away. Well, I didn’t.
The window cleaner will take care of it I thought, and then I walked away…..
The window cleaner came and the spider went. However, unlike the window cleaner the spider didn’t wait a month before coming back. It started a new web and I swear it looked angry. My Facebook status update was crying out for a photo of this spider so I obliged and took a spider selfie – let’s call it a spelfie – and posted it. I didn’t have to wait long for comments!
I was hit by people sending me links of newspaper articles, websites and spider-pedia links of something called a false widow spider.
The words widow and spider being used in the same sentence scared the shit out of me even if they were preceded by the word false.
It’s ok, they said, if it bites you it won’t kill you…but you might lose a limb.
Yeah, thanks for that – can I use ‘said limb’ to hit you around the head for not helping calm me down.
As I manically run around the house, closing every single window, I start thinking ‘what if there are ones already inside.’ So, I arm myself with a DustBuster and an aerosol can (of air freshener, not insect killer). It was going to be vacuumed to death whilst smelling alpine fresh.
Back to the window – it’s still there.
I start to calm down as I realise it’s not really moved much in the last few weeks so maybe it will stay there until Greg goes outside and somehow disposes of it.
Why, didn’t I go outside and dispose of it myself? Well, I’d need all my limbs to take care of Greg when he loses his arm, obviously.
The next day when driving past the house I could actually see the spider on the window – from 20 metres away. ‘This needs to go tonight’…I told Greg.
I was all for adding a lighter into the mix of my first line of defenses – the aerosol – and frying this thing but Greg was more humane. Well, there’s a first time for everything. He got a pair of oven gloves and a Dolmio jar and caught the bugger!
He put it in the garden bin – out of sight but not out of mind. Well not my mind at least….
I knew I was safe from it but what if there were more. I wasn’t even sure if it was a ‘false widow’ but there was nothing false about those fangs and what they might do. There were a lot of kids nearby, I would feel guilty if one got bitten and I hadn’t done anything which might have prevented it. Also, sidenote, the council were building a new complex in the field across the road from our house, spoiling the view, which we weren’t told about when buying the house so if they knew there was a bunch (?) of poisonous spiders lurking this might slow the construction process, right? Obviously the kids well being was my main reason….
I sent an email to the environmental department of the council with the pictures and to my surprise they responded quickly. They wanted to come and collect the spider right away. Thankfully, I had retrieved it from the bin and told them to come and collect it whilst I was at work. I’m sure they thought I was crazy when I said I’d leave it in a Dolmio jar next to the cat’s house!
They sent it to a lab for analysis and replied to me telling me that it wasn’t a false widow, it was a ‘cross’ or ‘garden’ spider. Although it could bite, it wasn’t poisonous and false widows hadn’t yet reached Scotland.
I’m wasn’t convinced, the likeness was uncanny. It was a cover up, I’m sure, they didn’t want a little (not so little, really) spider holding up a 4 million pound development.
Also, council – I want my Dolmio jar back!