CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

Autumn . . . and Jan Etherington enters the scary world of arachnids

PUBLISHED: 15:06 10 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:06 10 October 2016

Fen Raft Spider - photo by Sheila Tilmouth and supplied by SWT

Fen Raft Spider - photo by Sheila Tilmouth and supplied by SWT

Archant

Spiders . . . oh, I’m so sorry, I should have warned you, I really don’t want to scare you.

You were probably expecting a nice piece about autumn, but you don’t need me to tell you how lovely autumn is in Suffolk. And the first person to say ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ has to put a pound in the Cliché Box.

October makes me think of spiders. I don’t mind the ones outside. They spin dew-dropped, filigree webs at this time of year. Which is nice. It’s the ones that come indoors that I’m not keen on.

“Have you ever seen a spider that big?” My friend showed me a photo on her phone screen.

“I could hear it walking about,” she claimed. “5.9 on the Richter Scale, at least!” According to Mark Tansley, senior keeper of invertebrates at London Zoo, the spiders we see around the house now are mostly males looking for a mate. They’re larger than females, with longer legs. Eeek!

Many of us feel guilty about our dislike of spiders. After all, they eat unpleasant things like mosquitos and cockroaches, they don’t squawk or growl, or mug us like bees and wasps. They’ve got better table manners than flies and they don’t leave nasty slimy trails, just gossamer works of art. They’re extremely polite, shy and probably help old spiders across the road. Logic tells us we should smile and say ‘How lovely’ when a spider appears. So why do we, like Miss Muffet, shriek, run away and, sometimes, squash them flat?

Is it because they sneak up so silently? No. Butterflies do that and we smile with pleasure when they appear. It’s all those legs. Why have they got so many? Arachnids have two more than insects. What are the extra ones for? Not for getting out of the bath, clearly. If you have a spider in your bathtub, I read recently, leave a towel draped over the edge, so the spider can escape. Escape? Where to? The legend of Robert the Bruce, claims that he lay in a cave, contemplating a spider trying, and trying again, to spin a web. I think he was too scared to walk past it.

Animals aren’t scared of spiders. My English Setter dog, Jagger, is curious and looms over spiders, inhaling deeply. Unfortunately, he has very large nostrils and frequently the spider disappears upwards in a wind tunnel, to the confusion of my stupid dog, who then wonders why he can’t stop sneezing. Cats, unnervingly, sit and stare at spiders for hours. Only when the spider moves, does the cat bat them into oblivion with a killer paw.

We’re lucky, really, we only have nice spiders here. Some countries have really nasty ones. Australia has the funnel-web, with venom 15 times more potent than rattlesnakes. Remember the tarantula that climbed all over Sean Connery’s chest in Dr No? That’s not nearly as dangerous as the hairy and highly venomous Brazilian wandering spider, occasionally found hiding in bunches of bananas.

In Suffolk, we have the fen raft spider which is, according to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust website, ‘large and beautiful’. It’s one of the largest and rarest spiders in the UK and was discovered in the Redgrave and Lopham Fen Reserve – in case it’s near your house.

Cigar-shaped with cream go faster stripes, it’s 23mm long and catches much bigger prey – even sticklebacks. On the plus side, it doesn’t come indoors. Phew!

The world is divided between those who are really frightened of spiders and the rest of us, who would rather they didn’t walk over our face while we’re asleep. If one comes into my house, I try to help it on its way, with an upended pint glass and an old birthday card. Someone recently bought me a ‘spider trap’, a pair of plastic scissors with a scoop and lid, instead of points. Very useful, except I can never find it when I’m hyperventilating.

A gardener told me that if you put three conkers in the corner of the room, it keeps spiders away.

“Does it work?”

“Well, I haven’t seen any spiders, but I’ve got a lot of Daddy Longlegs.”

“And how do you get rid of them?”

“I get the spiders back, to eat them.” Oh, what a tangled web . . .

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EADT Suffolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EADT Suffolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EADT Suffolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Suffolk

With so much going on around Suffolk this weekend, it’s not easy to decide what amazing events you’ll be attending. Allow our handy guide to 5 things to do make that decision a little easier!

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

A typical part of the Suffolk village scene is the village sign, standing tall in a prominent part of the area and succinctly giving you an insight into the area’s history. Here are 15 Suffolk town or village signs and what they mean

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

A converted chapel in the heart of Constable Country makes a spacious, light-filled home . . . and an intimate concert hall | Words & Photos: Tony Hall

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for someone to enjoy a few days in Suffolk this festive period then look no further than these 6 gorgeous locations

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Enjoy a festive tipple from the comfort of your own Suffolk home with these Christmassy cocktail recipes

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with loved ones and there’s no better place to do that than Suffolk, with its outstanding natural beauty, charming villages and festive foodie delights

Read more
Friday, November 30, 2018

We’ve teamed up with Grand Illusions to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a £250 gift card with the stylish homeware brand

Read more
Thursday, November 29, 2018

There is a lot to consider when deciding on an educational facility. Here are some excellent places in Suffolk that might be the perfect fit for your child

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What makes the perfect Christmas? For most of us it’s good food, good drink and good company, wherever we call home. And in Suffolk we’re lucky to have some great people in the food and drink industry who ensure we always have a great time | Words: Jayne Lindill

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

From Waveney and the Suffolk coast to Dedham Vale, these 19 pictures are guaranteed to get you exploring the beautiful towns and countryside of Suffolk this winter

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

EADT Suffolk Magazine weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search