Monday, November 16, 2009

Accepting Nature into the Backyard - All of it.

We tidied an area along the side of the back yard on the weekend. We removed all the pots, swept and then re-arranged them to create a more open area of paving next to the BBQ area (which is on the right of the photo below).
We were hanging some wall pots to the lattice under the pergola and I look up and just above my head are two huge huntsman spiders.

After making a ridiculous noise and making sure I wasn't covered in spiders, Mr Berry and I move to the other side of the pergola and began to hang another pot. Just as Mr Berry lifts the pot up, an even bigger huntsman crawls up over the back of the pot and straight towards him.

To illustrate the magnitude of the situation, arrow 1 is pointing at the first huntsman incident. Arrow 2 is pointing at the pot involved in the second huntsman incident. I am sure you are not surprised that the second pot did not get hung.

Yep, ew.

I did not take photos, nor am I going to search the web for photos of a huntsman (you can do that yourself). I am still feeling all crawly just writing this. Seriously, they were huge. The one that came out of the pot must have been a girl spider. She was at least 50% bigger than the other two, especially in the body.

To lighten the mood and wait for the adrenaline rush to subside, Mr Berry and I discussed whether the two boy spiders were hanging around waiting for the girl spider to, you know..... Which then led to the question of whether girl huntsmans eat the boy huntsmans after doing the deed. Which then led to a series of other questions; are the boy huntsmans going to fight it out for mating privileges and if they do and she will eat the successful suitor, would the winner or the loser of the fight have to go forth and multiply? etc etc. Finally, we calmed down and the questions got a bit more mature. And we headed inside to our old faithful, Google.

We learnt that most web pages gloss over the actual mating ritual (who'd have thought?) but the girls are protective of not only the eggs but also the babies (how cute). Huntsman spiders will not kill you (contrary to our reaction, we did know this already) and won't usually bite, but if they do it will hurt like buggery but you'll be fine in a couple of days. Also, a lot of types of huntsman are pretty social and can hang out together.

The most important thing though, is the benefit huntsmans can have in your garden. They eat a lot of pests including cockroaches, and are eaten by lizards and birds. Which as much as my scalp is tingling at the thought of them, whether they are the eater or the eatee I win both ways.

In building our backyard, we hope to encourage local wildlife to visit. I love watching the little skinks, ladybirds, local birds and the many insects that are beginning to frequent our backyard, but I must admit that spiders were not on the list of things I wanted to encourage. But, without them there would be a gap in the food chain and one more reason for the birds and lizards to stay away. If I want the pretty feathered creatures than I must accept the horrible hairy ones too. Nature is both of those things and each is as important as the other.

So, before you get your fences sprayed and knock down every spider web in your yard. Think of the important role they can play and try to come to terms with accepting all of nature, not just the cute bits.

In the meantime, I am a long way off not panicking at the sight of a large spider and inside the house is still off limits to them. (Any found inside are met with a big, heavy shoe - although a shoe would've just bounced off these three.) And I am staying clear of that area of the yard for a while - perhaps till Christmas - who knows. It's one think to be accepting of nature, it's another to comfortably play alongside it.

This entire area is off limits until I no longer have the heebie-jeebies or unless someone is with me (Miss Berry doesn't count).

1 comment:

angela said...

I agree they are welcome into my garden but not inside my house. I hate the way spiders move they creep me out.

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