Why are there so many huge spiders in Suffolk at the moment?
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Whether you love them or loathe them, they seem to be everywhere at the moment
It’s nearly autumn which is spider season. You may have seen them making webs in your garden or along a hedge to trap food, you may have even been unlucky enough to walk through a web.
At this time of year, they’re not only visible first thing in the morning, they also seem to be around late at night when more and more of them head indoors to mate, avoiding the colder weather. And although they pose no danger to you or your family (whatever you’ve read, even the much-maligned false widow spider presents little threat, and will only bite if provoked) few of us really like them creeping around.
But one expert says rather than getting rid of them from our homes we should actually try and get on with our eight-legged pals and live harmoniously together
James Symonds a warden at the Weeting Heath reserve near Thetford suggests these little creatures do far more goodthan harm and we should try and leave them alone.
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He said: “It’s breeding time for spiders right now which is why we are seeing more of them about at the moment – they’ve evolved over the years to live along side us and they take advantage of our living conditions where it’s warm and safe.
“If you find one and can’t tolerate living along side it, use a glass and a piece of paper and put it outside, thought if you don’t mind them living in your house, they are very handy to have around. They are very resilient and can get anywhere and often they are probably in your house and you won’t actually see them.
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“Most spiders don’t live for that long, the males only have one real purpose in life and that’s to mate and then they usually die, the females are the ones that live the full life cycle.”
East Anglia is actually a thriving area for spiders, not necessarily ones you’d encounter in your bath, but ones you may find out in the wild.
Mr Symonds said: “We’re lucky to have a good range of spiders. At the reserve I work at, Weeting Heath, we have one which is endemic only to Norfolk and East Anglia does have one rare spider that is only really found at one reserve, at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Regdrave and Lopham Fen,near Diss – it’s the fen raft spider which up until recently was fairly scarce.
“It’s a good example of a success story where careful conservation work has taken place and enabled the spider to eventually get introduced to other sites.”
My Symonds said spider numbers are on the decline, probably due to climate change, but numbers are monitored by spider enthusiasts who would normally hold field meetings, had it not been for coronavirus.
He said: “Some of them are really beautiful creatures – like the wasp spider.
“They were fairly rare until five or six years ago and only found in the far south of the UK where it’s warmer, but they’ve moved slowly north. They like most other spiders are harmless.
“A few may give you a slight nip but the risk is extremely low, probably about as likely as getting bitten by a dog or hit by a car. Generally speaking, spiders have been around for millions of years and do more good things than bad, they eat flies and moths, keeping caterpillar numbers down and are great for biodiversity and for our eco-system.
“We really would be lost without them.”
But what if you can’t stand them?
Here are eight ways to keep spiders out of your house:
1. Keep things clean
Spiders thrive on the damp and the dark – the little nooks and crannies they find in dirty corners and cluttered floors. If you vacuum and dust regularly, store items in boxes that have lids, and generally keep floors and surfaces clear, spiders will be much less inclined to risk venturing inside.
2. Seal your windows and doors
Spiders are small and sneaky, but they still can’t get in through solid walls. Use a DIY sealant to close up the little crevices that surround so many doors and windows. A watertight home keeps out creepy-crawlies, and has the added bonus of squishing your heating bill.
3. Eat more oranges
Sounds weird, we know, but hear us out. Spiders ‘taste’ with their legs, and if their legs taste something they don’t like – in this case, citrus – they’ll be out the door as fast as their eight legs can carry them. One strategy is to rub citrus on your door and window frames, although we’re not totally sure what the neighbours would think if they spotted you absent-mindedly massaging your door frame with an orange peel.
4. Get a humane spider catcher
A lot of people take a confrontational approach when dealing with spiders, but it might be better for the ecosystem and your conscience to redistribute them somewhere other than your home. Spider vacuums will suck up spiders into a long tube to be released at your leisure, without you having to get within striking distance.
5. Let natural light in
Spiders are attracted to the dark and the dank, while spiders’ prey (flies, moths etc) are attracted to light bulbs and lamps. Sidestep both by keeping your blinds open, and flooding your home with natural light.
6. Use a vinegar-based deterrent
Spiders hate vinegar just as much as they hate citrus, so vinegar-based cleaning products often send them scurrying back the way they came. The only drawback: you might think it smells awful too…
7. Clean up your exterior
Tidy anything outside your home that spiders might hide in, and use as a bridge to your interior. Think leaves, woodpiles, climbing plants, compost heaps, and even bins.
8. Coexist peacefully
We know, this isn’t what you came here for, but spiders are an excellent vanguard against most other varieties of bug. Once established in a home, they rarely venture into the open, and from the safety of their webs, dispatch any number of other insects, including mosquitoes. If you’re really not a fan of creepy-crawlies, spiders could be an unlikely ally at home.