It’s that time of year again when signs of spider activity peaks. In the garden, the eight legged invertebrates string their magnificent webs across bushes to trap insects for a last supper feast. Indoors, it’s mating season for house spiders who creep from their hiding places to stalk females.
Female house spiders are largely inactive in autumn – it is usually the males that are seen running across the floors and walls in your home. Some species of the common house spider can grow to the size of a digestive biscuit, and live for several years. It’s highly likely you’ve been cohabiting with your creepy tenants for years without realising they were there, watching you with eight eyes from behind the skirting board.
If you’re wondering why the garden spiders are so fat, it’s because they are pregnant. The female garden spider weaves a new web every day to catch the last of the summer wasps, flies and other bugs. Her eggs will be kept safe in a silken egg sac close by and she will dedicate the rest of her life to keeping them safe before dying in late autumn. The spiderlings, safe and warm in their protective nest, will hatch out in late spring. You might see them ballooning long distances to their new homes on strands of web.
Many people, including myself, are terrified of spiders, but the eight-legged creatures act as pest control technicians in your home. Spiders will eat anything which comes into its web, including wasps and fleas.
There are many species of spiders in Ireland but only the false widow is capable of biting humans. Although house spiders look big, scary and hairy they are unable to pierce human skin.
House spiders can be difficult to get rid of. They are very territorial and if you place them outside they will try to re enter what they also consider to be their home. But think twice before you try to banish them from your home. When the temperatures dip below zero spiders might not be able to survive.
So remember, before you swot your spider or throw him outside, think of all the flies you would have to kill yourself. The spiders you see scuttling across the floor or up the walls will soon become preoccupied once they’ve located a female hiding in cracks and crevices or behind skirting boards. If you can bear it I would suggest to leave them be, ugly though they are.