Sunday, 7 July 2013

Not suitable for arachnophobes

Spending a disproportionate number of hours cooped up while working in my converted shed studio is taking its toll on me.  My complexion is pale, my body permanently locked in a seated position, my memory of the last time I left the house for anything resembling a social life now distant.  It’s a wonder I haven’t completely lost the power of speech and reverted to grunts.  “Cup of tea?” calls Mr SDS from the kitchen window.  A grunt accompanied by a thumbs up signifies my positive response.  By evening I’ve drunk twenty cups of tea too many and all I want to do is vegetate with Big Brother.

But that isn’t what I intended to write about tonight (in spite of the brilliant Dexter and Gina twist ;-) ).   It’s just that my lack of physical contact with a variety of homosapiens may explain why I’ve developed a rather worrying degree of affection for the one living creature who shares my studio space with me.


Federica the tegenaria duellica (house spider)

Now, please bear with me -  I’m going to talk about a spider, and she is quite a big one.  I won’t pretend that I’d be ok with her crawling up my leg, or that I wouldn’t be freaked out if she suddenly turned up in my shoe.  But Federica seems to be a creature of habit. She’s been with me for some time now (several months) and so far there haven’t been any surprises.  She has a fine mesh web under my desk, about a foot from where I sit, which then stretches round and up towards the adjacent window.  By day she stays in the corner under the desk, and at approximately 5pm every afternoon she comes out to the window area.  She has a little look around, doesn’t do much, just checking to see if there have been any home delivery bluebottles I guess.  It seems we’re both quite content in each other’s company, although any sudden movements from me sending her scuttling back to her corner – which really is the natural order of things, isn’t it, not the other way around…?

Because I see her every day and actually spend more waking time in her company at the moment than I do any other sentient being, I’ve become really fond of her.  I worry that she’s not going to get enough to eat so I keep the windows open.  The desk could do with a tidy up but I’m leaving things so as not to disturb her.  I realised today that, quite perversely, I’m going to miss her when she’s gone. 

I’m also going to be worrying in case she finds a convenient shoe to hide in.

But let’s hope she doesn’t and we can continue to spend our days peacefully, side by side, all Summer.


  1. Sounds like a very nice chum - leaves you alone, respects your space and knows when to keep quiet. Don't work too hard!

    1. Exactly, SB! Plus she's a great listener and she doesn't burden me with her problems :-)

  2. One of the very few tasks with which I am entrusted, Chez Swede, is to gather up the spiders trapped in upturned glasses around the house by Mrs S, and return them to the wild. Late one evening a few weeks ago, I noticed a couple I'd missed, but having locked all the doors for the night, decided to leave them until the morning, though not before popping both of them under the one glass for tidiness. I'm sure you're way ahead of me here! The following morning there was but one spider and one empty husk under the glass - I felt awful! Here I was trying to prevent them from being trodden on, splatted or sucked up a hoover by giving them their freedom and with one thoughtless act I condemned one of them to (a very unpleasant) death.

    Here's hoping your little pal Federica enjoys a long and happy life.

    1. Oh dear! :-( Now there's a cautionary tale!

      I'm often surprised at which species of spiders are the victors in inter-arachnid combat - usually the smaller ones! Those tiny fragile-looking spindly ones (pholcus phalangoides) are possibly the most venomous of all, proof that you can't judge a book by its cover (or a spider by its size).

      Federica's still with me today, bless her - she says "hello". Or that may just be me spending too much time on my own ;-)

  3. Don't be complacent!, I once new a black widow!

    1. Hmmmmm!

      (I'm getting so fond of her now, I'm considering becoming a fly farmer...)

  4. The bug man told my Daddy that his house (it's off the ground) is sitting over a major black widow metropolis. The last time I saw one was at gas pump where I was fueling up.

    It's the Brown Recluse that you gotta watch out for. My mother has a dime size hole in each shin as mementos from her encounters.

    More to the Daddy had a giant banana spider that hung out on his front porch for the last six months. He too named his pet spider (Bertha) and he was mighty disappointed when, one day, she deposited an egg sack and then disappeared.

    1. I know I would most likely have a very very different attitude to spiders if I lived where you lived, e.f. 'A major black widow metropolis'?!! And 'Brown Recluse' sounds so innocuous... but obviously from your mother's evidence, it isn't. Here even our more scarily named 'Wolf' spider is harmless.

      I love the sound of Bertha and understand your father's affection! I also think it is a rather poignantly, beautifully succinct aspect of nature that many spiders die soon after leaving the legacy of their eggs.


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