Friday, 4 June 2010


While I am consoled by not being alone in having an irrational fear of spiders, I wish I didn't. I would never harm one, but I cannot stop the shudder that ripples up my spine when I see them with their legs akimbo. You would think then, to discover thousands in my garden recently would have had me admitted to the nearest Medical Centre. It didn’t, and this is why. They were spiderlings (this is the name for baby spiders and rather sweet, don’t you think?). One female may produce as many as 3,000 eggs in a series of several silk sacs over a period of time.
Marvelling at such a huge brood, inside I googled and went on to be further amazed by the following facts:
  • House spiders can survive for several months without food or water.
  • Spiders can actually taste things with their feet - it all has to do with the bristly hairs on their legs which are used to pick up signals and messages (something to consider for the 'shavers' amongst us).
  • Silk produced by spiders is so strong, that if it were woven into a thread one inch thick, it would be three times stronger than a similar rope made of iron, and could support a weight of 74 tons!

This is how a web is constructed...

sketch by E. Dale Joyner

The Greeks are involved too, the scientific name for a spider - "Arachnid" (uh-rack-nid) is derived from an old Greek story. In this story, a girl named Arachne loved to weave. Her weaving was so beautiful and perfect that the goddess Athena got jealous. To punish Arachne, the goddess turned her into a spider. But Arachne still loved to weave, even though she was a spider. The word, "spider," comes from the German word "spinner," because spiders spin or weave silk.

Less attractive qualities are perhaps epitomised by the fact that spiders drink the insides of their victims like soup (their poison contains digestive fluids which turns the insides of their victims into pulp). An insect version of Gazpacho?

I think I shiver most when I come across this particular type of spider, especially when it is unexpected and I am in my nightie ...

“Will you walk into my parlour? said the spider to the fly….”


  1. i love to watch spiders weave their webs.. lovely post, though i may never eat gazpacho again!
    ginny x

  2. Ah, yes, I both love them and hate them! At this time of year the corners of our rooms seem to take on a 'Shelob's Lair' feel, with big cobwebs and dangling prey. I hoover them up, I'm afraid, feeling guilty about the distruction of habitat, but ruthless in an attempt to keep the house tidy(ish). So where I love spiders, is in the garden! Your spiderlings are great.

  3. I had no idea web silk was so incredibly strong!
    I cannot bear to kill spiders in the house and go to great trouble to remove them from the bath or other places where I need to go. I find them fascinating, and adore looking closely at their webs, especially if they are beaded with dew drops.
    Of course I do find them rather shocking when I suddenly find them very close to my person! But if there was a choice between spiders and flies - I'd be in the spider camp, no doubt about it!
    Fab post, dear,
    D x


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