A huntsman spider freak-out!

I don’t have a fear of spiders. I don’t like them, but I’m not phobic. I don’t want them to touch me and I will do that crazy “just fallen into a bag of bees” dance if one does but I am reasonably comfortable if one just happens to be on the wall or whatever. Living in Australia comes with that quiet understanding that there are things that can kill you everywhere. As aussies we know that “They are more scared of us than we are of them”. Most things that can kill you are more than happy to stay as far away from you as possible.

The huntsman spider on the other hand is a completely different animal. They are not deadly, I’ve never met anyone who has even been bitten by one but I hate them. Usually fear and loathing comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding. With a huntsman however, it’s the things I know about them that makes me hate them even more.

They are big. Really big. Size of your hand big.
And hairy. Disgustingly hairy.
Did I mention ugly? Butt ugly.

(I was going to post a close up photo of one but they are so ugly I don’t want it on my blog.
Click here if you are not from Australia and crazy curious)

All of this I can cope with…kind of. But take the biggest hairiest, ugliest spider you can think of then make it a lightening fast predator that has nooooooooo problem flattening itself down to the thickness of a sheet of cardboard and sliding under the doors to your house and you have yourself a freak show waiting for you on any given wall at any given time. Oh, and these bastards aren’t frightened of you either. You can’t just shoo them out the door with a rolled up newspaper. They are more likely to bolt up the newspaper and up your arm before you have a chance to flinch. Hideous creatures.
I subscribe to a live and let live philosophy, I am more than happy to preserve this impressive (??!!) species in the wild but if one of these living nightmares comes into my house….all bets are off.

So , you can imagine my joy yesterday morning when I went to get Wade up and found a large huntsman on the roof above his cot. With one eye on the spawn of Satan I whisked Wade out the room and started forming a plan. Plan A is always find a man and make it their problem. I am a feminist. I believe that women are capable of doing anything. The two bumps in the road of this feminist utopia for me have been opening jam jars and killing huntsmans. (I found a solution to the jam jar problem… put a rubber band around the lid then open it, and it comes right off!!) but the huntsman issue means I need to keep a man handy. This morning however, Mick was at work and it was 6.30am. With my sense of pride hovering slightly above my hatred of huntsmans, I decided I could not go door knocking or ring my dad to drive over so I was just going to have to deal with it myself.

The top method for dealing with a huntsman is to suck it up in the vacuum cleaner. I got the cleaner out and stood there doing a risk assessment of the situation. Casting my mind back to the police academy training, I did a quick “reccie” of the room, noted the position of all objects that could cause my demise if I needed to do the “bag of bees” dance. I cleared the floor between it and the exit. I tested the reach and angle of the cleaner pipe and the all important suction strength. You get one shot with these bastards. You can’t just wave it in the general direction and hope it will scuttle down the pipe. They are too strong. You have to get it just right or it will bolt across the room or leap off the roof and drop on your head. Every which way I looked at it, I couldn’t make it work. There are thin batons that run across the roof. The spider was on the far side of one and the length of the vacuum pipe was only just long enough. The only way I was going to be able to do it was to go to the other side of the room which meant the spider was between me and the exit (nuh-uh) and I would also have stand directly below it to reach it. No, no and no.

This was becoming a worry. I started to look ahead to my day and work out how I was going to do this. We have been having a really hot summer. Yesterday was forecast to be 40C. Quite often Wade will fall asleep in the car while I am out and about and I will let him sleep in the car, in the driveway while I do some reading or writing in the front yard where I can keep an eye on him. He doesn’t transfer very well and this is the only way I can get him to have a nap sometimes. With the day being so hot, this was not going to be an option. He was going to need to sleep in his cot that day so I was going to have to kill this spider.

I rejected the vacuum idea and moved on to the surprise king hit. I got the broom and did some calculations and a practice run. I had to swing it up on an angle so that the whole blunt side of the broom would crush it against the baton but it needed to be a precision hit.

One shot, Leticia…you get one shot.

I lined up the broom and…whack! I thought I’d got it but in reality, it just jumped to the side and I dented the roof. I couldn’t believe it didn’t jump off the roof or run around the room. I watched it for a bit and realised I had crushed a leg against the roof and it couldn’t move. I watched it try to move one way then another. I waited till it was in a position that I thought I could get it and tried again. This time I missed and it barely flinched. It was flattened out against the baton and there was no way I could hit it again. I decided that the best course of action was to wait an hour or two then call dad who could come up and save me. Leaving it unattended is actually the worst thing you can do when you have a huntsman in the house. A little while later I went to check on it. Like a classic B-grade horror flick, I slowly creaked the door open, heart racing as I turned my gaze up to the roof to find…..

It’s gone. $&%@!!!!

This thing has managed to wrench its damaged leg free (or chewed it off as I imagine it being capable of doing so) and disappeared somewhere in Wade’s room.

I don’t like using insect spray. I don’t own any because I hate the smell and I hate the thought of spraying my house with all those chemicals, however, I was going to have to get some and fumigate the room so I can kill it wherever it’s hiding. A few years ago I thought I could kill one in the bathroom with Exit Mould. Don’t do it….it just makes them really angry. I was brushing my teeth when I looked up saw one above the mirror. I sprayed it and the damn thing went bananas. I jumped around just as much and eventually managed to crush it with a shoe before bolting out the door to work as I was late. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror hours later that I found I had gone to work with toothpaste all over my face!

We went to the shops and I realised that all the spider sprays are mega toxic surface sprays that shouldn’t be used in enclosed rooms or even indoors so I got a more natural fly and insect spray and headed home. Wade was going to have to sleep in there so I compromised….bad idea.
Using my fury over this spider as a bit of a shield, I marched into the room and ripped out the cot mattress and pillow and threw them in the hallway. Not knowing where this beast was hiding, I unleashed the spray all over the room and closed the door. As much as I wanted a corpse for my own peace of mind, (and maybe to hang from the roof as warning to the others), I would have to be content with the fact that the spray would work. It would die somewhere and I could air out the room and go on with my life.

An hour or so later I went in for a look. I looked behind me and perched up on top of one of the giant teddies on the top of his cupboard was the huntsman. Sitting there without a care in the world. Feeling a bit Dirty Harry by now I got my can and unloaded a huge spray in all 8 of its horrible eyes and stood back waiting for it to keel over. It was certainly much slower but this beast was not going to lie down quietly. It slipped behind the bear and waited. Gradually I saw it try to crawl up the wall, sliding and slipping in the pool of fly spray. It fell, then crawled back up onto the bear and I covered it in spray. Looking like it had wandered into a fairy floss machine, this spider was doing the best Terminator 2 impression I had ever seen by dragging its body ever onwards and upwards. I swung the broom against the bear with all my might and felt certain that I had finally opened a can of whoop-ass on this thing. Then, like I am trapped in a zombie apocalypse, I see its beastly legs start to crawl up the bear again. It made it to the wall and started to climb.

Feeling a lot more relaxed by how slow it was moving, I decided to completely lose my shit. I swung the broom like a woman possessed. I belted and clobbered at it. Being on top of the wardrobe I couldn’t see where it had gone so I stood on a chair and emptied half a can of spray up there and waited….and waited… Nothing.

I had no idea if I killed it or not. I presumed that I had because I was not rooting around up there amongst giant bears looking for it. If it was still alive, I decided to presume that it is in fact the same spider that bit Peter Parker and maybe we might end up with a Super Hero in our family after all.

Later that night, Mick came home and I recounted my horror of a day.
His response? “It’s only a huntsman!”
Are you kidding me????
“It was huge! It was above his bed! I couldn’t put Wade to sleep in there knowing it was in there somewhere.”

I told him that I wasn’t sure whether I had killed it so he went in there and looked for the body. He came out with this little spider. Huntsman spiders are all legs. Their bodies are relatively small (still fat and hairy and gross) but their size comes from their long legs. When they die, their legs fold in on themselves and they seem much smaller.

Mick said, “You think that’s big? Wait till you see the one that’s been living in my car…” What the?? The same car I drove to work the other day???
I still stand by the fact that I fought a courageous battle against a hideous beast. An evil presence threatened my first born and I dug deep and did what any mother would do….yeah, ok, I spent all morning torturing then slaughtering a harmless spider….


11 thoughts on “A huntsman spider freak-out!

  1. That describes the last 40 odd years my son (also with Down Syndrome) has spent clearing out spiders and moths and any other flying thing from his room. I gave him an insect catcher – just a small plastic thingy with a little door to trap any insect he can. It always has a moth or something inside when I clean the room.

  2. You’ll be pleased to know that as usual your description brings to life any situation and while I sit here and read this I am constantly checking the roof above me and the wall behind.

  3. Glad to meet you 🙂 Poor spider. I live with a biologist and our wildlife-crazy offspring, so nothing gets killed in our house. Your spider would have been nabbed and kept in a jam jar until Daddy got home to identify the species and tell them what it eats – most often he’s more excited than they are.

    • Yeah, I know…I’m not proud of myself really. They are the only spiders I don’t like. If they weren’t so big and so fast, I’d put a jar over them and put them outside. I did that once and it ran up my arm….I’ll get you to come over and save me next time!!!
      Loved having a wander through your blog. Great writing!

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