Pest Control

macro photography spiders web

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.

*shudders again*

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.

27 responses

  1. Ruth, the huntsman-behind-the-sun-visor thing is absolutely NOT a myth… it’s happened to me enough times now! However, they’re harmless, and they’re great in your house for keeping bugs at bay. Although – they do sit in the corner for days on end, completely still, and you get used to them, and then you close your eyes for a split second and THEY’RE GONE. It’s like that episode of Doctor Who – Blink. With the Weeping Angels. You know the one? Here’s a huntsman my husband found on my kayak a couple of weeks ago:

    And while there are only a few varieties of snake in Tassie, they’re all venomous. Quite venomous. (sorry!)

  2. A Huntsman tried in to move in with us when I lived in Sydney. I swear its head was as big as my hand. When we tried to go near it with a broom and a bucket, it HISSED. They are pretty harmless I was told. Their bite can not penetrate human skin but still… they are the size of a rat!!

  3. You are so brave! I think I would have been doing the flappy, wavy army dance and yelping. I can’t deal with the enormous spiders we have here so I don’t think I could hack it in Tassie. I was fine with dealing with cockroaches in Asia but spiders are a whole different ball game. I love that you have an anti-spider man spray your house and the sound of a TacoTaco van x

  4. I’m so sorry Ruth, your last line has made me giggle but I’m not dissing the severity of the situation! I like to think that I’m good with spiders, and then one wearing body armour and DM boots climbed out my boot yesterday as I was about to put it on…

  5. Oh. My. God!!!!
    I don’t do spiders at all, I found it really hard reading this post :-/
    I have however not shown my fear for them since I had Tia in the hope she won’t grow up with it. But it’s still there, even though I don’t show it…..

  6. And this is why I could never ever live in Oz. I can’t even get rid of the UK ones (which are big enough, frankly) without coming out in a cold sweat and shuddering as I relive it for days after.

    I spend every autumn living in abject fear, longing for the cold weather, and always needing to know precisely where the hoover is.

  7. I take my hat off to your cool, calm collective-ness of walking to the ladies and quietly asking them to brush the spider off your back. I’m not sure I’d have been so cool about it.
    I love they all jumped up ran and screamed – now THAT bit yes, would be me 🙂

  8. Oh Lord, Ruth. I really don’t know how you do it. I’m not scared of spiders, we have a tarantula at home, but the idea of any snakes slithering through my garden or hiding underneath my blanket make me have a panic attack for you. So scary. I’ve got everything crossed for you that you’ll be one those people in Australia who never see any of the scary creepy crawlies x

  9. Oh bloody hell. Hope that encounter doesn’t come too soon Ruth – and it’s not too scary when it comes.
    When we were on honeymoon in Sri Lanka I heard Mr G making a hammering noise in our hotel room, while I was in the loo.
    He laughed it off when I came out, and only told me as we checked out the next day he’d been bashing a GINORMOUS cockroach with his shoe, until it eventually died. He didn’t dare tell me or I’d have refused to stay the night in that room!

  10. Oh I love the sound of him! But then I’m not there …. They’re very respectful of the wildlife in Oz – and I was taught just to get out / keep out of their way while I was travelling around a bit. And I’ve never forgotten the warning of if something bites you then you must kill it and take it with you to the hospital so that they can diagnose the correct antidote immediately! And it being the law (when going up the West coast) to have a baseball bat in the boot of your car to kill any animal you might hit on the road to put it out of its misery. Does that all still hold true? You can do it – you’re bigger than all of them. And do you have to check under the loo seat too? X

  11. You’ve got me shuddering too! I would never cope with such wildlife. When we were in Florida I read in the villa’s handbook (‘kindly’ left by the owners) about a poisonous spider that likes to hide in soft furnishings – I didn’t spend one relaxing moment on the sofa after that. I’m sure you’re made of sterner stuff than me! x

  12. I can’t wait! Sorry to be so gleeful, but I want to know more. Whenever I decide to emigrate and escape the miserable UK gloom, I’m always comforted by the fact that at least nothing here can bite me with a strength that will kill. I think you’re very brave x

    Sorry, that’s not very supportive, is it. I’ll do much better when you actually do come across a poisonous one I promise x

  13. We had so many of the same fears when we moved here… Black widows, tarantulas, scorpions and all variety of serpents. I can’t ever believe I was that scared but I did scream like a six-year old girl when I saw my first huge, 6-foot snake in the garden. Now, Fred (that snake) is just part of the family and we are thrilled he is harmless. Yes, we have seen them all now, but they are just a part of our gorgeous life here! It will get there for you all, too!

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