Belfast Telegraph

Yikes! Look out ... it's an invasion of giant spiders: arachnophobes should look away now

By Amanda ferguson

As autumn looms, eight-legged lodgers are being found scuttling across our floors and winding up in baths.

Sometimes, they are even discovered trying to make your shoes their new home.

At this time of year, like clock-work, householders report spotting alarmingly large house spiders.

The reasons for this trend are simple – the spiders are looking for a place to live over winter, and it is mating season so males are on the hunt for partners.

It is thought that there are around 400 spider species in Northern Ireland, but, thankfully, all of them are harmless.

Over the past few days, social media users have been sharing their tales of woe online as spiders invade their homes.

One Twitter user in Belfast wrote: "A massive spider has just ran under the bathroom cabinet and now I have to move house as I don't think I can continue to live here anymore."

Another posted: "Just removed a massive spider from our bed. I didn't kill it. Have also earned a serious number of brownie points with my better half."

And a third wrote: "I've barely slept at the thought of the massive spider in my room."

Paul Hetherington from Buglife, an organisation aimed at "saving the small things that run the planet", told the Belfast Telegraph that people should do the decent thing and remove arachnids from their homes humanely, rather than killing them.

Mr Hetherington explained that people had nothing to fear, and he gave advice on how best to escort the fearsome mites from their homes or workplaces.

"There are no spiders that are venomous or capable of biting through human skin in Northern Ireland, so there is no reason to be fearful of these excellent catchers of flies and other less useful animals," he said.

"I would urge those who feel compelled to remove spiders to do so humanely, and to release them into an outside environment.

"A glass and a sheet of paper is a long, tried-and-tested way to remove unwanted arachnids."

He added that spiders did not necessarily seek out warm, dry houses. In fact, they prefer prefer damp, cool outhouses and cellars.

Experts say arachnids play an important ecological and environmental role. And without them there would be more flies around.

For more about Buglife, visit buglife.org.uk

Factfile

Common spiders in Northern Ireland:

  • Araneus diadematus: known as the common or garden spider. It is large and variable in colour.
  • Tegenaria: a funnel web spider. You can see the webs in the bases of walls and outhouses.
  • Zygiella x-notata: this builds an orb-web and is yellow-brown in colour.

I can't help it ... critters give me the jitters

By Maureen Coleman

It may be the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but spare a thought for us arachnaphobes this autumn.

My phobia of eight-legged creatures is so intense, I break out in a rash at the mere mention of the word spider. I used to love this time of year – the evenings drawing in against a backdrop of rich coppery hues, swopping skimpy summer fashion for cosy jumpers.

But thanks to changes in the climate, autumn now marks the unwelcome return of the eight-legged freak. Every night, before I retire for bed, I do a last-minute recce so I can rest easy.

Like a child haunted by nightmares of monsters, I'll look under my bed, scan the walls and the curtains. And if I should happen upon one, my next-door neighbours will know. And the ones down the street. I can scream very loudly.

The discovery of an arachnid in my home has been enough to bring on panic attacks in the past – I'm talking full-blown, can't breathe, head-in-a-brown-paper-bag type of panic attacks. My family is used to this now. When I'm confronted by such a creature, I'll ring my spider-slaying sister who immediately leaps into her car to come to my rescue.

I know my phobia is irrational. I've been offered hypnotherapy but was warned I'd have to face my fear head-on.

I think I'd rather live with my phobia. After all, it's not going to kill me. Unless, of course, I get bitten by a poisonous black widow.

Belfast Telegraph

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