19 January 2024

Scared of spiders? You're not alone ... because they're watching you

| Sally Hopman
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Spider webs cover a flower bushes.

Not satisfied with simply scaring humans, spiders – including this sheet variety – cast their web over defenceless flowers. Photo: Hannah Sparks.

You have to love this time of year. Come rain, hail or slime it will bring out the best and worst in our creepy-crawlies – and us.

This week, the big, boofy pest exterminator guy – just after he had installed whatever poison they use to stop termites in their tracks – came over to say goodbye as I was heading off in the car.

I had just opened the door and, as we were talking, he looked down at the driver’s side floor.

“Want me to get rid of that?” he asked, pointing to the world’s biggest huntsman spider. (Well, maybe not the biggest but it was way up there, almost the size of said big, boofy bloke).

“Please,” I said, backing away, waiting for him to get a gun/explosive device/killer German Shepherd out of the back of his truck to annihilate the thing.

READ ALSO Canberra scientists help uncover world first – 16-million-year-old spider fossil

He knelt down, picked it up, took it to a nearby tree and placed it gently down so it could make itself a new home. Who knew?

Spiders and I have never got on. The last time I had a huntsman in the car was when I’d come to a halt at the traffic lights and the huge thing started crawling up my side window. Having gone to Spider School, in my dreams, I did what all clearish-thinking spider cowards do, and whipped off my shoe to start whacking it.

It just stared at me and I could have sworn it laughed when the shoe ricocheted back and hit me in the head. Also laughing was the guy in the car next door, waiting at the lights. Come to think of it, he was beyond laughing watching the mad woman throw her shoe at the window while the spider just watched.

Turns out the spider was on the outside of the window, I had just dented my shoe and given myself a headache.

Years ago, a group of us were having lunch when one of my friends turned up late, apologising. She wasn’t her usual immaculate self, looking more like she’d just had a run-in with something unattractive.

Dead spider

This villain has been sitting on the author’s laundry wall for probably around 300 years – and just because he has bits missing, doesn’t mean he won’t strike. At least he’s right next to to the washing machine. Photo: Sally Hopman.

She was changing the sheets on her bed that morning when she came across lots of tiny little black things that looked like they were manoeuvring for self-rule. Then she saw THE SPIDER. A monster of a thing, almost the size of a house (well, I said almost). Seems Mum Spider had decided giving birth on the sheets was a fine idea.

My friend did what all wise women do when things turn postal, she yelled at her partner to do something.

READ ALSO How I became Queen of the Damned Ducks

He gathered all the sheets up and flung everything into the washing machine. If in doubt, a heavy duty or a cycle with the word “soiled” in it will clean up just about anything.

When I got home that day, I put gloves on and ripped the (clean) sheets off my bed. Yes, my friend with the spiders lived more than 40km away, but they (the spider family), before they were washed up, no doubt told their relatives where we all lived.

I was taking no chances after hearing her spin that yarn.

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