Scanning today’s front pages, it would appear Britain is under attack from an army of saucer-sized killer arachnids hell-bent on chewing our faces off and eating our children.
The unfortunately named ‘false widow spider’ has had better weeks. Although there are twelve British spiders capable of biting us, ’tis the false widow who’s having a particularly bad time of things. I imagine all the other venomous insects in the UK are wiping their microscopic brows in relief. The dragon-sized Asian Hornet must be rubbing his 6 hands together with joy. Nobody gives a toss about his decimation of our honey bee colonies, we’re all too worried about the false widow pinning us down in the High Street and sucking our blood.
We Britons seem to revel in hysteria. A quick glance of the National History Museum’s website, tells me that the false widow has been a British citizen for approximately one hundred years. They have not just arrived on a bunch of bananas from Brazil and bemusedly found themselves in Asda’s fruit & veg aisle.
Yes, they are venomous. Oooh, that’s a frightening word isn’t it. Venomous. Snakes have venom. Scorpions have venom. And so do countless peaceful spiders and insects living in our gardens. Trouble is, a few people are allergic to venom. Much in the same way some people are allergic to milk, nuts or gluten. My friend is allergic to cat hair and should she stroke a moggy and suffer a negative reaction, her puffed up face is not likely to grace the front pages of the Daily Mail with the headline: “Killer British Cat Did This!”
I understand the ‘falsey’ has been on a bit of a breeding frenzy of late, hence the greater than normal population numbers, but the hysteria surrounding their existence is nothing short of ridiculous. If you are stupid enough to poke an uninvited false widow in the face with a biro, you may get a bite. That’s a bite akin to a bee sting and not a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Hysteria towards spiders is not restricted to the poor false widow. Many of us are terrified at the mere mention of the ‘s’ word and I offer no explanation as to why this is so. They move fast, they have too many eyes and they hide in dark corners; not the most attractive attributes. However, whilst I may not want to sit down and watch a film sat beside a spider, I do admire the little, often harmless, creepy-crawlies.
Imagine being the most loathed being on the planet. Days spent in isolation in desperate search of a mate. If you don’t get picked off by a crow, you’ll surely be victim to a Yellow Pages attack, hoover suck, slipper swat or toilet flush. Considering the vital role the spider plays in keeping our fragile eco-system flowing, it’s spectacularly shocking that we treat them which such horrifying disdain. Without spiders, your house, and more importantly, the entire world, would be over-run with insects. This would destroy crops and skewer the entire ecological balance of planet earth. Or something like that.
I understand people’s fear of spiders, but I cannot understand the desire to kill them simply because they do not like them. What does such an outrageous course of action teach our children? That, if we don’t like something, we destroy it?! Of course, some of you may say, ‘It’s just a spider”, or, “It’s just an ant”. Or a fly, a wasp, a bee etc etc. Doesn’t really matter what it is, if it’s bothering you, just kill it.
There’s no ‘just’ about it. Every thing on planet earth has a role to play and should be respected equally. It may be ‘just’ a spider to you, but without it, the world would be unrecognisable. The humble, unloved, unappreciated spider is one of nature’s centurions and if you really don’t want a plague of locusts in your lounge, Sammy and Susie need a bit more respect. Furthermore, as I am incredibly soft, I like to think each spider has a family somewhere, waiting for them to return, so please don’t squash them!