I was sitting outside with DorkySon the other day – eating a super tasty lunch from the TacoTaco van – when I felt something tickly on my neck. I glanced at the window beside me and could see quite clearly from the reflection that it was a BIG spider and if I wasn’t quick it was going to disappear down the back of my shirt.
I walked as calmly as I could across to a nearby group of three women, also sitting eating tacos, and said through quite a tight smile ‘Please could you flick that crawling thing off my back?’
All three of them looked up at me, widened their eyes, and screamed loudly.
Not very reassuring, ladies!
Fortunately, there was someone else walking past who took pity on me and brushed the thing off my shoulder. I’m not sure what kind of spider it was, but it scuttled off along the pavement, and we all got on with finishing our lunch.
The fact that I’m even able to blog about this without getting slightly hysterical is proof that I am trying really, really hard to be a big girl about the critters here.
Tasmania gets off much more lightly than mainland Australia. There are far fewer poisonous beasties here. But there are some – both snakes and spideys – and six months in neither DorkyDad nor I are yet ready to let our guard down. I’ll know I’ve truly acclimatised to life in Oz when I stop doing the spider check every time I enter a room – that quick but extremely thorough scan of the walls, floor and ceiling I make to ensure there’s nothing lurking in the corners.
‘Don’t worry!’ say the hardy locals. ‘It’s only the redbacks you need to worry about. Check for the little red stripe…’
Really? You think I’m going to willingly let any spider close enough that I can peer closely and check what colour its tush is? Nuh-uh. Not happening.
When we moved into this house we got a pest control company to come and do a preventative spray, and that will hopefully stop anything too icky coming in. A nice reassuring man called Ron showed up with his van, his big lolloping dog, and a canister of high-pressure spidey spray on his back. He scooshed his magic stuff all over the doors, windows, air vents and the like. So far – touch wood – it seems to be doing the trick.
But as Ron was leaving he couldn’t help telling me about the huntsman spider he had just removed from someone’s car, and the story almost made me weep.
For starters, why in God’s name would you call any creature a ‘huntsman’? That is not a reassuring name. That does not sound like an approachable kind of spider, which you would happily invite into your home.
Incy Wincy. Mr Skinnylegs. All good. Those are the kinds of name a spider needs in order to share space with a cowardly Scot.
Doesn’t that just sound like it spends its days waiting behind a curtain, ready to pounce with eyes whirling and fangs bared as soon as I turn my back?
Anyway. I had read online that a huntsman’s favourite trick is to hide under the windshield mirror in your car, so that when you flick the mirror down to keep the sun out of your eyes mid-drive, you end up with a freakin’ enormous (their leg span can reach up to 15cm) hairy spider in your lap.
According to Ron, this isn’t just an urban myth. It actually happens. Even in Tasmania.
So I am working hard at being a big girl. I did not scream when something fist-sized waltzed along my hairline and disturbed my delicious taco lunch the other day. The spider checks I do when I enter a room are getting just a smidgen less thorough. I even walk barefoot to the bathroom in the middle of the night now.
But underneath that relaxed demeanour I have THE FEAR. I know my first proper encounter is coming. It’s bound to be. Something is going to scuttle down my shirt or dance across my dashboard. And you can bet your booty that when it happens I will be blogging it, in its full hairy, eight-legged glory.
I’m nice like that.