Make friends with spiders if you don’t like flies and other insects
Ever since I learned, at school long ago, how a broken Scottish king, Robert The Bruce, was inspired by a spider to go back and win independence from England, I have admired the tenacity of this eight-legged creature.
Bruce was in a cave when he saw a spider trying to weave a web. He fell several times, but always came back up until he succeeded. The king identified with the spider in his own struggles.
The invasive false widow spider is in Ireland, prompting warnings that it could nearly wipe out our resident spider population.
However, many who are so concerned about our many native spider species overlook the obvious: the biggest killer of spiders is quite possibly man.
For, in countless homes across the country, spiders are removed during regular household cleanings in which webs in often hidden corners are unceremoniously swept away. Two hours of web construction by a spider swept away in seconds!
Having spiders around can be helpful. They are, after all, nature’s pest controllers, feeding on insects and flies, cockroaches and moths. Some people are even afraid of harmless spiders and suffer from a condition known scientifically as arachnophobia.
As the weather cools in autumn, spiders tend to come indoors, mainly to breed. The males die after breeding, but the females live until the following year, laying thousands of eggs.
A spider’s silken web is a thing of beauty, intricate, intricate and woven with superb skill. Jan Beccaloni, curator of spiders at the British Natural History Museum, rightly described it as a “wonderful feat of natural engineering”.
Spiders build webs all year round, but fall is the best time to see webs outdoors. If you look closely in the morning, you will notice that the dew brings up many webs that were almost invisible.
Being intelligent creatures, spiders choose their web sites carefully, often along insect flight paths or near the ground to catch caterpillars. All the while, the spider watches closely as it waits for the unfortunate insect to fly into the trap, providing the spider’s next meal.
Finally, there was a popular belief in Ireland that spiders were not to be harmed. The following is a handwritten account by an Agnes O’Leary, of Lavally Upper, Mallow, Co. Cork, in the Dúchas Schools Collection 1938: “People say that when Our Lord is born in the stable he was very cold and Our Lady didn’t have many clothes to wrap him up in and the spiders came and wove webs around him and kept him warm Some people say spiders are holy and it is a sin to kill them.