Spiders, eek!

I have written in several places about the wonderful and diverse wildlife populating our garden. Originally, we had Harry’s favourite, the humble frog and froglets from the pond, dragonflies -though not so many since we had to net the pond to stop the cat fishing, damsel flies, newts, bats at night and many other wonderful creatures. The one that has bugged us from the beginning are the spiders. At first we noticed the huge brown garden spiders that seemed to grow enormously as they fed on the abundance of flying things. At one time they were so big we could see them at the bottom of the garden from the top. ‘Nearly big enough for lunch.’ says Harry. Hmmm. Anyway, not long after we moved in and I was ‘playing’ in the garden, I noticed some shiny black monsters hiding in holes in the wall at the bottom. I voiced my dislike of them because although I can tolerate spiders at a distance and have no problem putting them out in a jar should they come in the house, if one came near me the world would know it. But the shiny black creatures were intimidating to just look at. I then noticed some wonderful flourescent green ground spiders, then white ones probably of the same genus and before long I became overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of different spiders. They hung on the washing line, webs strung across the archway to wrap neatly around one’s face as we walked down the garden and no matter how many times we removed them, or should I say, Harry, removed them, strangely spiders are not one of his phobias, well they would come back and bring friends. We diligently destroyed nests but still they seemed to come from nowhere until now we have so many that it would take a team of arachnologists months to identify them all.

As I wrote in a previous entry, I have had my son over from Switzerland and he and Harry went on a spider hunt, mainly triggered by the fact I described a small black shiny spider with red markings that looked like a black widow. I also mentioned that false widows were quite prevalent in this area having spread eastwards along the coast thriving because of the mild winters and that someone in our town had been bitten rather badly by one. So off they went down the garden, Harry with his stick to bat them neatly into the pond for the fish which I am sure had very little or even no taste for spiders despite their size, the fish that is. Then on inspecting the shed I showed them one of the ones I had a real fear of just outside the window. Well Harry tries WD40 but the thing just sat their and laughed at him, he followed it with other various sprays from the shed including antifreeze and I quote from Harry…’ He will be a slippery customer but ok in the winter time.’  Finally they manage to sedate it enough to capture it in a container. Now I hate the things but I cannot stand them being so cruel, if you are going to kill anything says I, then do it quickly and humanely. Men seem strange creatures though, hell bent on torture, yet they shudder when I stand on a snail. ‘you are supposed to put salt on them’ says they…. ‘and watch them die slowly in agony, my way may not be nice to you but sure is quick to them.’ says I. Anyway I am digressing again. Having triumphantly captured the spider they bring it indoors to look it up on the internet and even more triumphant proclaim it is indeed a false widow spider. A fascination for its markings captured their imagination even further because on closer inspection the marks looked like some ghastly alien skull, ‘like God has placed a warning on them.’  More intense investigation found a further six in different parts of the garden and plans to entice any spider from its web began to develop. A screwed up piece of twig or a leaf would have the said spider scurrying from its hiding place expecting food, on finding the offending article to be inedible, it would then set about clearing its web leaving enough time for a photograph to be taken. I have the picture to prove it ugh! Then my son also discovered different kinds of nasty spiders and it would appear we are over run by them.

I am not convinced that the pain and swelling I had in my leg, diagnosed as phlebitus wasn’t a baby spider bite. It started as a sting and became worse, weeks later I still have a lump, a rough red mark and a large red patch even though the pain has gone…. Hmmm Anyway now I am left with my son and granddaughter gone back to Switzerland, wondering what to do with the spiders. We have obviously lived with them till now and since knowing for sure what they are I have warned my neighbour who has a young child but how safe are they? I have squashed a couple of baby ones in the house and dread the thought that had I not found them, they would have grown big and maybe hide in my bed, where the two recently reported spider bite cases had both happened. Maybe I should put out a request for any arachnologist out there who would like to play with spiders in my garden to get in touch with me and tell me what to do with the things.

Take a look and see what you think?

See the skull on its back?

See the skull on its back? Or maybe on this one? alien monsters

Or this one?  
alien monster's skull

alien monster's skull

Hiding in the ivy outside the back wall we also found this little charmer that might be the brown widow spider.
Whatever they are, I refuse to get closer than a photograph to identify them…. Spiders! eeeeek!
Is this a brown widow?
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