At this time of the year, people seem to go into a frenzy about spiders!
With the approach of Autumn, the spider population seems at its greatest and they make their way indoors because buildings offer the best environment for weaving their sticky webs in a way that will maximize their food supply.
The likes of Facebook becomes flooded with OMGs and “Someone save my from these monsters“, whilst newspapers, for want of a better story, run scare headlines like Spiders the size of MICE could soon invade Welsh homes and Six ways to get a Giant House Spider out of your home
This all begs the question… Why?
Let’s put this into perspective. The common house fly will trample in dog and cat poo, or practically any other poo it can find, and on the rotting carcasses of dead birds and animals before invading our homes to spread its poisonous payload onto kitchen surfaces, in the sugar bowl and on any food it can lay its beady compound ommatidian eyes upon. Yet we seem happy just to casually wave them out of the way with a wafting hand.
Yet it seems the mere sight of a spider, those friendly little creatures that can actually help rid your home of these disease bearing flies, will send the lady of the house reaching for the vacuum cleaner, or even screeching and screaming until their dutiful husbands reach for the nearest shoe to squash the eight legged interlopers to arachnoidal oblivion.
No spider will hurt you. They will naturally scurry away from human beings. Yes they can bite but there is no spider in this country that will give you anything more than a mild irritation. Certainly far far less than the result of a wasp sting or even a nettle sting and despite common folk lore, there very few spiders in the world that can deliver a deadly bite. And it is important to understand that even in those counties that to have the odd “dangerous” breed, “death by spider bite” is very rare indeed since clinics, poison control centres, and hospitals often have various species-specific antitoxins on hand to treat the bite.
The common house fly on the other hand, can do you a great deal of harm. They spread infectious diseases by carrying viruses, bacteria, protozoa and even roundworm and threadworm on the hairs of their legs. They regularly spread diarrhoeal illnesses such as salmonella, E.coli, Shigella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus, cholera and dysentery.
Other diseases carried by house flies include typhoid, anthrax and tuberculosis. There are in fact over 100 pathogens (disease-causing organisms) commonly associated with house flies.
So next time you see that little spider scurrying across the floor, leave him to go about the business of protecting you from this very real danger. And when that spider’s web turns up in the corner of the room, think of it in terms of being a much more efficient and healthy method of pest control compared to the toxic chemicals in fly sprays and insecticides.
Long live the Spider!