This is a long, self-indulgent post. And I understand that most readers prefer the short, sharp anecdotal posts. But this is an important topic, so I won’t be silenced. So if you’re one of the hardcore, highbrow fans of the blog, settle in, grab a cup of tea and read my latest. Otherwise, scroll down to some of the shorter posts, which have a laughter track and broad target demographic.
Conflict and coexistence – the Daddy Longlegs and humans
There has been a recent spate of incidents involving the resident Daddy Longlegs and my shower (why Daddy? I’m changing it to Mummy). As a general rule, I won’t kill any living creature. I generally relocate spiders, worms, beetles, bumblebees, dragonflies, leprechauns etc, so they can start a new life outside. I actually enjoy the company of moths. I do, however, sometimes ask why I have so many different species residing in my house – how did they all hear about me? They just know. I have different strategies for different species, the deployment of which is based on the weather. If it’s raining, rather than condemn the little creatures to a volatile life in the wet, I’ll simply grant asylum and place them in the spare room until the weather improves. While this is usually met with some form of resistance from spiders (running away, playing dead, biting, disagreements over area of resettlement), it has proven to be an effective strategy in preserving the lives of these misunderstood creatures. However, this policy has been tested due to the recent influx of Mummy Longlegs insisting on residing in my shower, the most hazardous region for a spider.
Each morning, I make my way to the shower, cursing life. Too early to be awake. Where’s the sun. Neighbours stole my newspaper again. Then I see the Mummy Longlegs, sat precariously near the drain, and my ire quickly turns to the little creature, ‘Why must you choose the most volatile region in which to settle?! An environment that is wet, damp, moist – this is suicide! You should be outside in the garden, using your extravagant (and rather excessive) legs to navigate your way through the rugged terrain. Or better still, an arid region across which you can glide gracefully’. My method of resettlement is to elevate the embattled creature onto a dry piece of card and proceed to resettle her in a safe-haven, such as under the desk. Or in an unused cupboard. Anywhere that is calm and quiet so they can relax. Sometimes, in my morning ratty state, I will turn the shower on, unaware that a spider was enjoying a nap. Upon witnessing the Tsunami crashing down, the Mummy Longlegs will offer a horrified expression, ‘wtf, I thought this was a protected region!’, before frantically flailing her legs as she hopelessly attempts to grip a surface, any surface, before ultimately, tragically, being washed down the drain.
I always advise spiders to remain outside, even in winter. Because even though I will always allow spiders to board in my home, how can they be sure they’ll get a pro-spider human like me? Many humans despise the spider. Many use their shoes to crush it. Kids often abduct the spider and take it to a detention facility – like a jar – where they experience a slow, painful death. Many hold an irrational fear of spiders. ‘Oh no, it’s a spider, they’re killers. Run!’. ‘You bigot, it’s just a Cardinal. They’re harmless’. Many humans discriminate against the Mummy Longlegs due to her imposing size, and her violent brothers. To which I say, yes, some spiders are violent. They resent your way of life and want to kill you. But not all spiders are extremists. Many are safe, law-abiding creatures who simply want to eat ants and then stand in the exact same location for days on end. I often look up at the ceiling, ‘FFS, what are you doing up there?! You’ve been there all week. Do something! Go and make a web, check out another room. Bite someone. Jeeze, even go for a thrill in the shower. Anything but just passive existence. Live damn you! Live!!’.
Another point of contention between the spider and I is their misuse of the bath. I will often see a curious Mummy Longlegs climb into an empty bath, before realising she can’t climb out. Seething with incredulity, I observe the scene, shaking my head. ‘When will you learn?! You can walk down the bath, BUT NOT UP!!’. Then the neighbours’ kid starts crying again. ‘Mummy that man is yelling at spiders again’. I ignore the crying, and focus my rage on the spider, before snapping out of it and offering an affectionate grin, ‘Oh, how can I be mad at you, come here’, as she crawls up my arm. At some point, serious questions need to be asked. No, not about me. I’m fine (trust me, I’m getting better). But about the Mummy Longlegs. I can’t always be there to save these embattled creatures. And one might ask, ‘why should I’. What is my obligation to the Mummy Longlegs if she willingly chooses to reside in a conflict zone, at high risk of injury and harm?
Take the spider’s web for example. If you’re about to dedicate an entire day to creating a masterpiece, surely you don’t do so right in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. The same logic applies to spider webs. Why spend all day creating a masterful web, right in the middle of a gate or footpath? Face palm. While it may be tempting to simply smash the web of a negligent spider, we must consider the spider’s right to exist in the home they built. These homes are often built with advanced insect catching devices and have been created by true craftsman (or woman). The time that has been dedicated to the web’s construction borders on obsessive. As such, we must exercise the option to relocate. It is very simple to take 2 strands of a web and shift it away from the path. The spider may lament the intrusion, ‘wtf, get your hands off my web!’. She may even lunge at you. She may lament that she is being taken from her land. But, she must also acknowledge that she built it on someone else’s land. Who owns the land? The human or the insect? These are deep philosophical questions into which I will delve another day.
Ultimately, we need to accept that little creatures are a permanent part of our environment. While we can wish they didn’t exist, or confined their existence to remote areas or abandoned sheds, the simple fact is they won’t. They are in our bathrooms, under our tables and on our garden paths. The only way we can ensure coexistence is via education and acceptance. We need to educate ourselves about which spiders are dangerous. We also need to relax. Is it really so bad if you share your house with a Mummy Longlegs for a few days? After all, they only live for a week.
Ok, I’m done with this post. I really need to go back to Uni and write essays again. Anyway, for the next week I will be having open-house sessions where I will walk curious citizens through my home, explaining all the different species and their idiosyncrasies.