Getting in and out of my little house has become an utter nightmare in the past few days - because it is covered, almost literally, with the most disgusting, enormous, rampaging crane flies, daddy-long-legs and spiders.
From inside, they look as though they're stalking me, trying their utmost to get in and terrorise. I'm seriously thinking of installing some sort of airlock or cordon sanitaire - floor to ceiling mosquito netting, with zip closures! Or perhaps invest in one of those hazmat suits you see Kate Winslet or Dustin Hoffman wearing while they fight global epidemics of nasty viruses in movies like Contagion or Outbreak. I'd have to wear it for most of September - the month that spiders suddenly balloon into monsters and stride over your carpets and rugs with swaggering arrogance.
Over the years I've interviewed entomologists, pest control experts and even hypnotists about spiders - and none have ever been able to fully explain why, in August, spiders are a fairly normal size, pretty well-behaved, and fairly inconspicuous and then suddenly, on September 1st, they are transformed into enormous, hairy, long legged beasts set to frighten even the most macho homeowner. Talking of whom, I'm rather pleased this spider-season to have three "boomerang" kids living with me at the moment - because if and when I do come across a particularly hairy arachnid I have human back-up, armed with brooms, tennis rackets and swatters.
Spider experts tell me that, contrary to the scary tabloid headlines, the beasts are NOT unusually large this year. "They're as big as they're MEANT to be at this time of year," assured one. "Those you're encountering are simply horny males prowling, on the lookout for a female to mate with." Ugh. Shudder. What's more, he added, if you can bear to let the spindly daddy long-legs type spiders live in your house - they will actually EAT the aforementioned horny hair raisers. Yes, you heard me right. Cannibalism is rife amongst arachnids. The more you learn about them, the worse they get.
- So how to reduce the risk of such encounters?
- Turn up the central heating.
- They really don't like it hot and dry.
- That'll get them scurrying out of their dark corners, looking for a way out.
- Don't leave the doors and windows open.
- And continually disturb their habitat - that's what they really hate.
- So keep up the housework.
I'm thinking of buying one of those automatic, self-steering robot vacuum cleaners, to keep my floors continuously brushed, swept and generally upset. Do you know they even make these robot vacuum cleaners with special mop heads for shiny floors, and tiny rotating brushes for walls and corners? I reckon there's be a big market for a special "Spider Snapper" head, that would seek out a horny arachnid, chase it down, corner it and then suck it up. I'd just hate to have to empty the waste tray...Expensive they may be, but cheaper and far more fun than a hazmat suit.
Anyone got one I could road-test?