Friday, 25 September 2009

A Good Year for the Spiders

It's been a joy, in this Indian summer weather, to walk out into the garden first thing in the morning to beathe the crisp, dewy air and feel the early sun... Less of a joy is the aftermath - picking the clinging skeins of spider silk off my face and hair. This has been a bumper year for gossamer and those fine and fascinating creatures (which, incidentally, are not insects) that spin the stuff and do so much to keep the biodiverse life of the garden and countryside ticking over. They also play their part in the mysterious, largely unseen life struggles that go on inside the house. A couple of years ago, the deceptively weedy-seeming daddy longlegs spiders - previously confined to cellars and out-of-the-way places - began to take over, making short work of the much beefier house spiders. (Here's one of them making a neatly wrapped ready meal of a house spider - not for the fainthearted.) This year, however, the house spiders are holding on and making some headway, so the daddy longlegs takeover is at least postponed. I'm glad, as I've always felt the house spider to be a friendly familiar presence, whereas there is something sinister about the daddy longlegs with its inchoate snagging killing machine of a 'web'.
Emily Dickinson appreciated spiders, and she surely didn't have the daddy longlegs in mind when she wrote this...

The spider holds a Silver Ball
In unperceived Hands--
And dancing softly to Himself
His Yarn
of Pearl--unwinds--

He plies from Nought to Nought--
In unsubstantial Trade--
Supplants our Tapestries with His--
In half the period--

An Hour to rear supreme
His Continents of Light--
Then dangle from the Housewife's Broom--
His Boundaries--forgot--


  1. God bless spiders! In my Blogger Dashboard, my list of 'Blogs That's I'm Following' placed your spider story next to this.

    Let's see a daddy longlegs try that!

  2. Ugh - sounds like a cure that's worse than the condition. I haven't dared look at 'How your penis changes as you age'. Hope it's not illustrated...

  3. apparently daddy longlegs spiders are able to kill almost any spider far larger and more venomous than themselves, but scientists are unsure how, as (utterly contrary to their urban myth reputation) they have a very unpotent venom and tiny fangs

    got a major spider phobia myself, hate the bastards (although I always let them be)

  4. It must be the web, Worm - very snaggy - and they seem to be able to wrap their prey v effectively from quite a distance, thanks to those long thin legs...

  5. Thought you would be anti spider Nige, considering how many butterflies they consume.
    As grand Vizier Nige of the obituary empire, whence Jim Carroll's?

  6. Afraid Jim Carroll never registered for me Malty.

  7. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Nige, perhaps not all of your readers will see how your tale of the righteous house spider successfully fending off the oppressive daddy longlegs is your metaphor for the human condition and man's eternal quest for justice, but I do. It makes me think of the tales of Narnia or even the battle between Gog and Magog. You may want to think about converting this into a screenplay for a Disney animation or perhaps a case study for a conflict resolution workshop. Is there anything in the butterfly kingdom to compare?

  8. Oh, I love it. But I think Emily's spider is a female, no? The boys don't do all that spinning; they just mate and die. (Or am I confusing spiders with preying mantises?)

  9. Oh, the horror....

    You are officially insane, Sir, and obviously in cahoots with our vicious eight-legged tormentors from Planet Barf!

    Be that as it may, I wish you all the arachnids you may ever dream of - on the basis that then the fugly gits will leave me and mine alone.

    {sobs} please, PLEASE!!! leave me alone...

  10. Pretty effective piece of writing, thanks for the post.

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