Yes, I know, if you are at all freaked out by spiders you’re not going to want to read this post, let alone look at the picture… I do understand, they’re not everybody’s cup of tea. But if you can bear it, I’d like to give these ones a bit of positive PR.
On Christmas Day I happened to be looking upwards and spotted something that warmed my heart – not Santa on his sleigh nor a shining star of wonder, but certainly there was a birth of sorts to be celebrated. Or rather, about twenty births (or should that be hatchings?) Behold the spider babies, hanging from the ceiling!
Mother and babies doing well...
Baby spiders are called ‘spiderlings’ and these particular ones are from the species ‘pholcus phalangioides’, more commonly known as ‘cellar’, ‘skull’ or ‘daddy longlegs’ spiders. Here at Sun Dried Sparrows Towers we call them ‘spindlies’. We’re pretty tolerant of them. They don’t move around very much, instead preferring to just hang about really – usually from ceiling corners where they’re quite hard to see anyway. I often wonder how on earth they survive; you don’t notice them catching a lot in their fine webs but, contrary to their somewhat delicate and fragile appearance, they are effective predators. Other spiders, flies or bugs that inadvertently venture near them are easily killed and eaten, even if they seem much bigger or more robust than their captors. For that reason some people accept them as miniature pest controllers.
Spindlies are fragile in another way though in that they can’t take the cold - it literally kills them. The species originated from warmer climes but have spread to cooler countries purely through being able to find heat and shelter in our buildings. I suppose I should evict this family when the spiderlings are a bit bigger as there comes a point when you really don’t want to live in a house so full of eight-legged beasties and cobwebs that it resembles Miss Havisham’s room in Great Expectations. However, I can’t help but have a strange fondness for these particular ones. Spindly mum has carried the eggs with her in their sac and kept them safe since she laid them and now she’s staying with the littl’uns until they go off to corners new. Apparently she’ll even feed them while they’re small, not a behaviour generally associated with creepy crawly life where parental care is rarely a characteristic.
When you think about it, they’d make the perfect pets. No vet’s bills, no feeding required, no litter trays to empty nor walks to take on during cold winter mornings. All you’ve got to do is make sure they don’t get too cold. So… anyone fancy a spiderling? I’ll do a twenty-for-one offer on them if you like. Just as long as you remember: spiders are for life and not just for Christmas.
Maybe I’ll just have to take them to Fun Land?