Autumn spider bastards

autumn in yorkshire

Ah, Autumn. Season of falling leaves, rosy red apples, the first frost under foot … and giant bastard spiders invading your home after dark.

You know what I’m talking about. Those massive black meaty ones that are too big to fit under a teacup. Not that I’m getting close enough to try, to be honest, because what if it suddenly ran up the cup and onto my arm and into my hair to make a nest? I can’t take those sort of chances – I’m a mother now. 

Nothing will deter them. The Internet will tell you all sorts of nonsense – citronella, vinegar, horse chestnuts. I’ve tried it all – I even sprayed an invisible barrier of bug spray around every room, like a magic circle of poison – to no effect.
Conkers are only helpful if you physically lob them at the spider from across the room while shrilly calling for help. Even then, the bastard won’t actually learn its lesson and move on out.

Because yes, these monstrosities are living under our noses the whole year round. When we first moved into our rural home, left dormant & unoccupied for the previous year, I encountered one so large by the AGA that I refused to go in the kitchen for a week. It scuttled behind the wooden boarding on the walls, and when I googled to see how long it might last in there – how long I might feasibly have to forgo tea and toast and all hot meals for – I discovered that house spiders typically live for ten years. TEN YEARS. That’s older than my oldest underwear. That’s significantly longer than my best relationship.

Speaking of relationships, once when my then-boyfriend was away for the weekend I found & bravely trapped a monster spider under a pint glass. It was on the stairs, so for the three days my bf was absent I had to stretch over that stair each time I passed, while it goaded me from beneath its bell jar like a spooky museum exhibit.
Finally, my other half returned, and asked why did I have a black feather under a glass on the stairs? Was it modern art?
Indeed, it transpired that my arachnid foe have fallen off a friend’s feather boa when she’d stopped by to flaunt en-route to a hen party. The twitching legs I’d observed were the fronds gently fluttering under the force of my panicked breath.

Nevertheless, this remains my single bravest spider encounter to date. 

Please don’t tell me they’re more scared of me because I really have tried to coexist. At university, in a house full of girls with no spider-saviours available, I took to naming them in an effort to bond and try to think of them as pets. Frederika lived in the downstairs bathroom quite happily until I noticed she only had 7 legs, and was in fact the very same spider I’d had my dad evict months earlier. (The leg-loss was a total accident, I swear. ) 
She was mocking me with her resilience – as I watched, she lifted a leg and waved at me. At least, I think that’s what happened – there had been quite a bit of wine consumed by this point. I’m certain she was not a feather, at any rate.

The other night in bed, having just one more look at Twitter before sleep, I felt something tickling across my chest. I shone my iPhone to discover not just a giant bastard spider, but clearly a pervert bastard spider who had dropped from the ceiling to get an eight-handed fondle of my breasts. 

Luckily, I have a defence team. After discovering the AGA Spider and her hoarde of beastly friends, we adopted two rescue kittens – Earl and Grey. They do an admirable job of keeping down the mice and spider populations in our kitchen, (although the spate of baby bunnies that Grey brought in over the summer was undeniably traumatic for all.)
But a few weeks ago, Earl went missing and has not been seen since.
It could be a coincidence, I suppose – it could maaayybe be linked to the reports from various neighbours about him eating their cat’s dinner and sleeping in their beds – but I think the truth is far more sinister.

I think the spiders have him, and they’re coming for us next.


ps I realise these photos here are average and essentially irrelevant, but I don’t have any photographs of spiders, oddly enough.

  • Barb Bendiksen

    This made my day, honestly! I had shitty morning and then I read your article and had to laugh out loud in the bus. You are such a brilliant writter and so funny! You should definitely write a book or two, I would buy them all. I also love your english, mine is rahter bad and I always learn something new. Thank you Sarah, you truly are amazing! Btw I was never afraid of spiders until I wanted to prove my friends so. I took one kind of tiny spider in my hand and he was happily walking around. Then, he stopped and out of nowhere bit me in the finger! I swear!! Spiders are not friends, ever!

    • Boo! Sorry to hear you had a shitty morning but glad the spider bastards made it better! Your kind words mean such a lot to me ?. GAH to being bitten! Is this normal? I swear spiders didn’t used to bite as much as they do these days. I think they;’re getting worse… ?

  • Carrie

    This is the reason we’ve been collecting conkers like they’re going out of style. My grandmother swore they helped, and my poor, completely arachnophobic boyfriend will do ANYTHING to get rid of them. I personally think they are more effective as ammo to knock them off the walls with, nasty (not-so) little things. I used to be terrified but have somewhat got over my fear to help poor said terrified boyfriend, though after moving into our new place and discovering no less than FIVE giant bastards in the bedroom, I took matters into my own hands and used a can of the bug spray normally used to disinfect airliners, borrowed from my pilot father. Thankfully, we haven’t had any 8 legged visitors since!
    Wonderful post, and I’m rather grateful you didn’t have any spider pictures to share.
    Carrie x
    ps. hope the cat escapes the spider bastards!

    • It does help having to fortify and be the brave one, doesn’t it? I’ve found I’ve got better at dealing with them since Orla came along.
      Your bug spray measures sound brilliant and entirely proportionate ??. What if there had been more? And more importantly, where can I get some of this stuff??
      S xx

  • Haha. Loved reading this.

    My house is being taken over by the beasts. I haven’t been attacked yet. Whoop!

    • they’re ghastly, aren’t they? Hope you stay safe from their little leggy clutches x

  • Charlie Swift

    He,he this made me laugh!

    Well I hate it but I’m the designated spider catcher in our family as my husband wont go near them… some times feminism sucks.

    • haha! I’m pretty sure Emiline Pankhurst did NOT die for our right to catch spiders! You’re very brave. x

  • Paula Solar

    I am aracnophobic since I was a child. I grew up spending weekends and holidays at my grandparents’ farm: cows, bunnies, hens, you name it. And of course there were bugs… and spiders. I couldn’t care less about bugs unless they were in my plate or my breakfast cocoa, but spiders terrified me. My brother used to mock me with that, but one day I went to my bedroom and I found one massive eight legged creature waiting for me on my bed… I ran away, my grandpa had to calm me down because I was hysterical, and I never slept in that bedroom again. In fact I slept with my grandparents, in their bed, for like a month. And only because my parents thought I was just being silly so they wouldn’t let me sleep with them.

    So to me this post is rather a horror story… don’t get me wrong, it’s funny the way you tell it, but then, I imagine myself in your place and I’m terrified.

    I hope Earl comes back home soon. Perhaps he’s gone to a cat’s boarding school where they will teach him the difference between mice or spiders and bunnies.

    • I do wonder what causes so many of us to be naturally afraid of spiders? I like to think it is because we can sense the evil in them ?. I have slept in a different bed since the nighttime incident i mentioned above, so I do understand. I know the fear can be very very real and I’m impressed you even managed to read this post having such a big phobia yourself!
      I hope you’re right about Earl. He was always a free spirit, but maybe that boarding school will teach him some sense! x

  • trona

    WHY ARE THEY SO BIG?? there’s one (that I know of) living in our house and it’s almost the size of a bloody tarantula, seriously there’s no need. I saw it scurrying up our bedroom wall just as I was falling asleep, I’m traumatised for life. Another thing that traumatised me was a beetle. I was just about to fall asleep one night when I felt something on my neck, it was a BEETLE *cries*

    One of the neighbours’ cats visits us every single day to get fed and have a sleep too, I’m not sure how many homes he has but he was almost rehomed by the SSPCA once, he has absolutely no shame. Hope your cat returns home soon xx

    • YES. WHY. Aren’t they supposed to be small and fit into small gaps? And don’t even get me STARTED on those beetles. The big black shiny ones? UGH.
      It’s nice to hear of multi-home cats out there. It feels entirely possible that Earl just found somewhere more willing to give up the wet catfood and so gave us up. I can’t even be mad – I’d move house for free food too.

  • ..and now i can’t stop thinking about the spider willy meme!!…

    • the WHAT? Do I want to google this or not? ?

  • Both me and my husband are a little bit freaked out by spiders (he makes me do a spider check after he goes into the garage or loft so he doesn’t accidentally have one on him!) but he used to live with two serious arachnophobes. So much so that they rang him shrieking one day because there was a giant house spider in the kitchen – one flatmate had jumped up onto a chair and the other had run outside and accidentally locked himself out in fear! I can keep it together a bit better than that, but they still give me the heebie jeebies.

    • Bahaha! No wonder he wound up a bit jumpy! Yes, heebie jeebies describes me, most of the time. I think I’ve got better out of necessity since Orla came along as I really don’t want her to inherit this phobia. There have been a few occasions where my instincts have cut in though and I’ve scooped her up screaming, only to quickly try and style it into a fun game so she doesn’t know why! ??

  • Well, as creepy crawlies go, spiders terrify me. Thank you for not posting a photo! I used to live in the Philippines and the spiders there are…gigantic. We have really huge brown house ones and ones that apparently can trap birds in their thick yellow webs! So I am glad to have moved to England where there are less (?!?) spiders. I would love a cat (both for the spider fighting ability and the company) but can’t have one because my partner is allergic. I have seen and killed several large-ish (size is relative because a spider is a spider is a spider and they terrify me whatever size!) spiders in the 8 years that I have lived here. I feel your fear and offer my commiserations. Hey, on a positive note, at least we don’t live in Australia where the spiders are…well, a heck of a lot scarier! 🙂

    • Wow!! Are spiders in the Philippines better or worse as Australian ones? The bird web thing is the stuff of horror films! ?
      If your partner is allergic to cats, I say it is their responsibility to catch the spiders for you ?. But you’re right – it could be much worse, so I’ll try to be grateful for that much…

      • I think Australian spiders are the granddaddy of scary spiders. We do have heartstoppingly scary ones though. I remember looking out my bedroom window once and directly in front of me was this huge arachnid. It had a substantial web that had an X! It was a garden spider but huge! Boy was I glad Philippine houses have screens in between the inside of the house and the glass panes! Right. I need to stop reliving spider-related memories or I’ll never sleep tonight! ?

  • We keep getting these harvest spiders, the ones with the tiny body and really long legs, they just sit in the top corner of a room, very annoying! But nothing can beat those huge spiders almost the size of my hand, why do they have to be so big and scary looking! We have this spider catcher so we can put them outside unharmed, but sometimes they don’t even fit in the catcher 🙁 Enjoyed reading this post Sara!

    I do hope Earl returns home soon.

    Kayleigh |

    • Thanks Kayleigh! I feel hopeful he might.
      I think I know the spider catching thing you mean. Like a tube with a handle? Does it work? I hate those harvest spiders too! One held me hostage on the sofa for two hours once while it sat on the floor, mocking me. I had to tweet for help! ??

      • Yes one like that! It means you can catch them at arms length rather than getting too close for comfort! It’s an absolute must have 🙂

        • hmmm. But what if the spider skirted around the sucky-uppy bit, ran up the tube, up your arm and into your face? WHAT THEN? ?

  • May I just say, you totally made my day! I was trying not to laugh but I’m afraid I still am. So talented you are, sweet lovely Sara! x

    • ? Well I’m very flattered you think so. It’s amazing what nonsense I can turn into a blog post on a dull day… ? xx

  • Jessica Wood

    I once found a giant one under a damp pile of clothes, arrgh! It left the shell of a wee beastie behind, the remains of a little snack presumably. I did the only sensible thing, I calmly got a ladle from the kitchen and whacked it.

    • UGH. See, what other insect leaves behind a smell? None of them, because the spider crawled up directly from hell – science fact. Brilliant ladle use. I bet that’s the most action it’s seen all summer! ?

  • #oftheeveryday

    this made me chuckle. your wordsmithmongering is just so! and I hate those indecently long-legged creepers also. thank you for such humorous tale of your spider encounters.

    • ? so glad to find a likeminded soul – both in sense of humour and spider hatred! xx

  • I giggled all the way through, Sara. As someone who has never had too much of a fear of spiders I could still relate, especially when trying to move them with a cup, I mean, what if I go to put a cup or glass over the spider and it jumps in my face and eats my eyes? Then what?!
    erin | words and pictures

    • HA! I just choked on my tea a bit at that last line. Damn right – none of us can be too careful ?

  • Julia Williams

    I get an unwarranted amount of satisfaction out of the words ‘spider bastards’. I will take these words and say them every time I see such a spider bastard from here on in! Love the humour in this post x

    • YES. Call it them to their face Julia. They deserve it x

  • I think this is how Rory feels! He sort of loves that he’s the courageous spider saviour, but some of the big ones put even him on edge. I think he was less glad about it all the other night too, seeing as he was fast asleep and I went and stood in the bath which seemed, at 1am, the safest place to hide.
    Fair point re pork loins. It is odd, especially as the pig died simply for the food chain, whereas killing spiders is for the benefit of ALL MANKIND ??

  • BigOldMoon

    No mention of daddy long-legs? They’re flying spiders, for God’s sake!

  • I have a theory that Ikea Billy bookshelves are actually designed to be spider homes. They have a little cutaway section at the base, at the back, to make space for the skirting board. And that is where the spiders go to live. With that handy little cutaway entrance into their homes. There’s a perfect dark, cosy space behind a bookshelf for a spider.
    We have a LOT of Billy bookshelves in our house. I believe there is a spider living behind every one of those bookshelves. (they are quite well-read spiders?)
    And you can’t evict them because the cutaway gap is too small for the Hoover nozzle.
    I am not making this up! Go check your Billy bookshelves! (If you dare)

  • Haha you did make me giggle with this, my cats are great at catching everything flies, mice, birds, hairbands are a favourite and kirby hair slides are literally number one on their hunting list. However spiders?! Nah…not for them. There is currently a very horrible striped yellow and black spider on the back of my front door – inside the house. I’m waiting until my other half arrives in a week to remove it… the joys of long distance relationships!

    I hope your cat returns home soon lovely and that the spiders find a new home, maybe they could do a permanent exchange with Earl?

    Peta xx

  • Ah, Sara, you are a girl after my own heart. I once was sitting on the floor sorting laundry, as you do, when a giant beast of a spider crawled out from under a shirt and ran at me full pelt. I got up so quickly that I dislocated my thumb in the process, and never again have I been able to even fake bravery around an arachnid!

    We have awful large ones in Australia called huntsmen spiders, that will “follow” you around the house because they follow vibrations. While they technically won’t really hurt you, they can get as big as your face and are rather jumpy and fast.

  • A giant perverted spider……..this is a line I endeavour to say myself one day. Perhaps not about my own experience though 😉

  • NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. Gotta burn the house down.

  • I grew up with ‘Horatio’ in my bedroom window. She didn’t worry me at all until she had babies then there were a gazillion of them. I do think she lived until about ten years old as i was too scared to ever deal with her. The possum living in the wall was more of an issue…

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  • I found a huge dead spider floating in half a cup of cold tea by my bedside yesterday morning. I think it saved me from having a spider crawl on my face in the night but I remembered taking a sip of it in the dark…