Things that scuttle and creep

I really am quite fond of spiders. This morning when I stepped into the shower and noticed a daddy long legs lurching spastically up a silken guy wire, I wanted nothing more than to rescue him.Cartoon of a daddy long legs spider hanging upside down on a thread in the shower.He was scrambling to escape the sudden steaming monsoon with his life and legs intact, but huge drops kept ricocheting from my skin, jarring him from his thread.Close up of a spider looking alarmed and clinging tightly to a web as water drops whizz by.

What to do? What to do? Daddy long legses are such frail things. Many times I’ve accidentally dismembered or demolished them while trying to protect them from some less dubious fate.Cartoon of a dog sniffing a spider. A girl is telling him to leave it alone.Cartoon of a girl bending down to pick up a spider and saying, "Let's move you where that dog won't get you."Cartoon of a spider squished between a girl's fingers, with one leg falling off.And – like cellophane or wicked witches – they lose all structural integrity upon the slightest contact with water.Cartoon of a spider with mangled legs in a water drop, thinking 'I'm melting.'I bent towards him, trying not to divert the shower stream his way. Then seeing my chance as he lurched precariously in the middle of his thread, I grabbed one end, severing the other from the floor with a flick of the wrist, and relocated him into the empty bathtub.Cartoon of a spider with a parachute, landing next to a plughole.He landed lightly, like an expert parachutist, and I was proud of my swift and gentle dexterity. Hopefully he’ll find his way into a ceiling corner rather than a floor nook to make his home next time.

Of course, it’s easy to like daddy long legses. As a child I was convinced that the Incy Wincy Spider song was based on those sweetly comical-looking creatures.

But spiders on the whole tend to be quite unpopular beasties.
They are mashed.Cartoon of a spider being squahed with a fly swat.
Smashed.Cartoon of a spider being squashed on a wall by a hand holding a thong (flip flop).Squashed.Cartoon of a spider being stomped on.Gassed.Cartoon of a spider holding its breath as it is sprayed with insect killer.Feared and thoroughly despised.

Earlier this year, in England, a woman told me about her dream of visiting Australia. She’d wanted to come here all her life, but was too afraid of perishing in the maws of that well-known killer: the Australian Toilet Spider.Cartoon of a ferocious spider the size of human climbing out of a toilet bowl.She clearly meant the redback – a native of the unplumbed backyard toilet in the days when most suburban houses had them. And even though her phobia was half a century out of date, I couldn’t argue with the sentiment that they’re nasty, bitey things. In fact, the redback is the only spider that I crush on instinct and without remorse. All others of the arachnid clan are welcome in my home.

But as summer rolls around, the time draws near to poison my most hated household pest. So the first thing I’ll be doing is scooping up my eight-legged friends and releasing them in the garden where they’ll be safe from my toxic arsenal of cockroach-seeking bombs.Cartoon of a girl tipping a container of spiders on the ground and saying, "Off you go, little guys, explore the world!"
I really do loathe cockroaches. Once I thought I had one in my hair and screamed continuously till I got it out.Cartoon of a girl looking alarmed with a cockroach in the middle of her forehead.I was on the phone with my grandma at the time.

We were chatting when I thought I felt some little scurrying legs, and I paused mid-sentence, focusing all my senses on my scalp.Cartoon of a girl on the phone with a tingling sensation in her head.And holy crap! There it was again. Something tiny-creepy sneaking amongst my follicles. It had to be a cockroach! A spine-chilling, germ-carrying insectosaurus. With ominous antennae. And barbed hairs cosseting its legs.Drawing of a cockroach labelled "Demons of the insect world".How I hate those things.

I swatted wildly at my head – grasping, flicking, trying to get the bastard off right now, now, very now without squashing the foul black seepage of its guts into my hair.

And the whole time, I was yelling.Cartoon of a girl tangled up in a phone cord, grabbing at her head and screaming, "Argh!"Cartoon of the same girl even more tangled up in a phone cord, grabbing at her head and screaming, "Aaaargh!"On the other end of the phone, my grandmother was frantic – Cartoon of a girl completely tied up in the phone cord and screaming. The person on the other end of the phone is saying, "What's happened? Are you okay?"I could hear her, but I couldn’t answer. My every self-preservatory instinct was focused on nabbing that death-infested roach.

Then suddenly I had it. I felt the tips of my fingers brush against it. I scooped under and flicked it away.Cartoon of a girl flicking a cockroach of her head.From the corner of my eye, I saw its arc. I heard it land, with the whisper of a sound. And I was pumping with adrenaline, grasping, grabbing, twitchy, to find some implement to beat it to a pulp.Cartoon of a girl wielding a rolling pin above her head.But then I glimpsed it, poised there on the bench. I could swear I saw its fear – that furious pounding heart, those rapid-breathy lungs – and my revulsion turned to shame.

I shook myself and heaved a breath, then reassured my grandma.Cartoon of a girl on the phone saying, "Sorry, Ma, for freaking out. I thought I had a COCKROACH in my hair!"Cartoon of a girl on the phone saying, "But it's all okay. I got it out."Cartoon of a girl looking down at a large, hairy spider in her palm and saying, "Turns out ir was just a hunstman".Cartoon of a girl on the phone looking down at a spider in her palm. The voice on the other end of the phone is saying, "A spider?! Kill it! Kill it!"

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12 thoughts on “Things that scuttle and creep

  1. We capture and release all spiders we find in our house. I am having some American friends coming to visit soon. I am already rehearsing in my mind how much warning I need to provide about the massive spider population and the likelihood that there will be “encounters”. My poor American husband is freaked out about 90% of the time and sometimes at night he’ll yank back the bed covers and jump up and yell “I just felt something!” I think we go back to the U.S. just so he can get a good night’s sleep.

    • I couldn’t help laughing when I read that, even though I know it must be a horrible experience for your husband. I get a similar feeling when I feel something in the bed, or hear a scuttling noise at night – only I’m afraid it will be a cockroach! At least I’m not in fear for my life, it’s just some primitive overwhelming sense of revulsion.

      Has your husband been here long? I hope that terror abates over time.

    • Hope you called forth your inner Crocodile Hunter with great success! Besides the size of the damn thing, I think it’d be a lot scarier encountering something like that in another country because you don’t know what it is or how it behaves. At home in Australia you’d at least know whether the horrible appearance was all bluff or not, and if it had super sproingy legs for lunging in your face as you approached or would just curl up and try to hide from you.

  2. With spiders I would usually just say “Nuke it from orbit, to be sure…” but you can’t do that with cockroaches. Yes, they would survive the attack. Best to break out the heavy chemicals.

    A lovely post. I laughed a lot.

    • I had to look that up – I’ve never been to Hawaii or seen a cane spider. I didn’t realise they’re similar huntsmen to ours! They look like so big and intimidating even though they’re gentle and timid with people. Fearsome cockroach-killers though! A definite point in their favour 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger | The Hungry Dog's Lair

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