As If Summer Wasn’t Bad Enough


Apparently the worst summer in two decades is going to have an upside. We’re about to have a bumper crop of…autumn spiders, some poisonous (there are 12 different venomous ones in the UK) and one, the Tegenaria parietina, or cardinal spider, reputed to have bitten Cardinal Wolsey, which can measure up to 6in across, about the size of a beer glass.

Oh, great. Perhaps it will rain scorpions as well, or we’ll have thick fogs filled with flying snakes, sort of like in that movie ‘The Mist’. I live on the sixth floor, yet every autumn the terraces and house fills up with these eight-legged lovelorn crawlies looking to mate under my sofa, usually appearing when I have bare feet and am watching a horror film.

Why do we react so strongly? Scientists say it’s learned behaviour from our parents. I say anything with that many legs moving out of synchronisation deserves at least to be put outside via a complicated arrangement of glass and cardboard.

Dennis Wheatley’s ‘The Haunting Of Toby Jugg’ is the best spider-horror book I can remember reading, and lived with me for years.

15 comments on “As If Summer Wasn’t Bad Enough”

  1. Martha says:

    Thank you for pointing that book out. I hate spiders. They are one of the few things I am allergic to. Now I know to avoid it – however well written.

  2. Alan Morgan says:

    I shared a flat with a girl years back who so terrified of spiders was she that it was not unusual to find her huddled in a corner, trapped in a room by a spider (and we were on the fifth floor). Once when away for the weekend I came back to find her jabbing at the wall with a burning newspaper.

    We don’t get spiders here. Or we do but they’re learning because my little girls hunt ’em, catch ’em and present them to me in dolly cups covered with Mr. Men books. We let them go outside but it won’t take long till the yonngest has the idea to use a stapler to nail them to the door. As a warning.

  3. J. Folgard says:

    Can’t stand them -got bitten on the forehead during my sleep several years ago, (‘C’mon, they don’t bite!’ Yeah, right), made my head throb for a whole day… One of them cunningly ambushed me in the shower (I live on the fourth floor)three days ago, but I survived. I’ll check that Wheatley novel anyway!

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Was staying at my in-laws one summer and was bitten several times during the night. The itch and pain was really something. The doctor said to use calomine lotion & it would go away in a few days. Went up to my parents where it got much worse & had managed to spread (via a scratch?) to the other leg. Dad finally looked at it, threw me in the car & made for the hospital where I was given a penicillin shot. The whole thing was turning gangrenous. Not fond of spiders.

  5. Dylan Lancaster says:

    Living in the country and a 300 year old house we get dozens at this time of year. There was one the size of the palm of my hand a couple of nights ago and yes I am terrified of them. Spiders and slugs for some reason send me into a frenzied panic.

  6. Gretta says:

    I have a very firm rule for sp…sp…those things: big enough to see, big enough to die.

  7. Cynthia White says:

    Starting at a young age, my son began to catch-and-release insects. He would cover them with a cup, slip a postcard under the cup and insect, and carry the whole shebang outside where he would dump the insect in a flower patch, or let it fly away. Haven’t been afraid of any insect since. I find them very interesting and rather beautiful in form. Sorry you will be inundated with them.

  8. Marc says:

    I’ve brought my children up to be respectful of spiders and grateful for their place in the food chain – after all, they are (on the whole) less harmful to humans than their prey, the disease ridden housefly.

  9. Anne Fernie says:

    My favourite months of Sept & Oct are ruined by the knowledge that it is the time spiders migrate indoors (why? are they cold or something????). Once dropped a massively heavy dictionary on top of a real monster (like the one in the photo – did you HAVE to show that?) and next morning it had vanished. To this day I have no idea how which just adds to the paranoia……

  10. Porl says:

    I dont believe I’ve just come upstairs and logged on to read this, after just having ejected 2 x fine specimens (Tegenaria parietina) both with legspans far far wider than the glass tumbler I was trying to catch them in….

    Its horrible sitting on a sofa with beige unpatterned curtains behind you when from the corner of your eye you sense what MUST BE a mouse or small rat scuttling up them – two in the space of half an hour – either that or just one of the buggers tacking the p*** and coming back in somehow!

  11. Porl says:

    sorry my error – apparently mine are Tegenaria gigantea. Just as ugly, hairy and longlegged….

  12. Gretta says:

    Anne – O.O

  13. J F Norris says:

    Arachnoid factoid #67: All spiders bite and have venom. It’s just that most of the toxins are not injurious or even lethal to humans. In the US the supposedly deadly black widow accounts for less bites (and rarely fatalities) than one would think. The real one to avoid over here is the Brown Recluse. Nasty, nasty wounds should you be unfortunate to be bitten by one. How do I know all this? Had my first slightly toxic and very painful spider bite this year. It happened over three weeks ago and it still is not fully healed. I also learned I will carry a lovely permanently dark pigmented scar for the remainder of my days. There goes the leg modelling career. All for fresh grown vegetables. That’s what gardening will get you. We used to have a horror movie sized spider colony on our rooftop deck until this year when we had our wettest summer ever in decades. The descendants of four years of spawning were finally drowned. I don’t miss them.

  14. Steve says:

    I’m so glad my mother-in-law is dead.

  15. Joyce says:

    Spiders eat other nasties in the house so I don’t mind them. Spider’s webs are beautiful so where’s the horror?

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