Tuesday 27 December 2011

Spider baby!

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?


  1. We call 'em Grandaddy Long Legs and they are mostly tolerated.

    Some people do develop a violent reflex to anything that crawls or slithers around here...forgivable, I think, considering some of the things that crawl and slither in these parts.

    Because they're slow, harmless and easy to pick up (those legs are like handles), they're perfect for terrifying little sisters...harmless or not you wouldn't pick up an eight inch banana spider. So, some folks have a nostalgic admiration for them...or maybe it's just me.

    Even though they make a mess and aren't really that pleasant we need the spiders around our house...the cats have killed all the lizards.*

    The clip was funny. Maybe Father Ted can help me kill a few hours this week...the deadest week of the year.

    *Not a bad trade off...the our yard is devoid of snake food.

  2. I'm generally terrified of spiders and have an immediate Manchurian Candidate reaction to most of the ones that enter my home, but I don't mind the little spindly ones, oddly. They're so slight they almost look like pencil drawings, which seems to trick my senses into believing that they're not really arachnids at all.

    But I won't take you up on your offer, all the same...

  3. Efb and Dr MVM, glad you like a bit of Father Ted over there too..

    Not sure I'd be so keen on spiders if they weren't all completely harmless here, efb - same goes for most of our other slithery, creepy crawly things (with the exception of a few human beings perhaps...)

    I love your description of the 'spindlies' being like pencil drawings, Isbw - now all you have to do is imagine that the bigger ones are like bold abstract paintings...

    Happy new year to you all x

  4. Holy Moly, blurgh! I was looking for your Goth post but couldn't find it (the link didn't work) so I clicked on the spiders label (obviously). You weren't joking either, you do have a penchant for spiders. Spiders do get bad press, even in cartoons so I try and put a positive spin on them to my little boy. He's blank canvas so he'll only fear them if he's told....or something. A bit hard to do when I'm pretty squeamish myself and with good reason. When I was growing up in Saudi Arabia I often found myself confronted by some rather unpleasant critters but none more so than this large spider with peculiar bumps on it's back.....in my bedroom. I thought "I'm not having that in here scaring my Lego village" and tried to picked it up. I frightened it and it proceeded to jettison hundreds of tiny baby spiders all over my room, everywhere! Horrified, I screamed like a little girl...I wasn't very pleased and probably didn't sleep in my room (or at all) for a very long time. I wanted my room to be fumigated by men in biohazard suits like that scene in ET.

    1. Oh that's quite a story from you growing up in Saudi - who could blame you for developing a fear of spiders after that?! Must say I used to be very scared of them as a kid but at least never had an experience like that (plus I think we're lucky here in the UK knowing that none are poisonous). Glad to know you're giving them a positive spin to your son, though. They need all the good PR they can get, bless their little hairy legs.


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