Thursday, 13 April 2017

Aaaaargh! Kill it!

We all know lots of people who can’t abide spiders. Their immediate reaction is one of horror should one of these little creatures scurry across the carpet, and whilst nobody would want a co-habiting arachnid exploring their ears or nostrils, UK spiders are harmless. Actually – but don’t tell this to hysterical spiderphobes – all UK spiders can bite and do have venom. How else would they catch stuff to eat? But their fangs are too puny to penetrate human skin, and their venom is ineffective on us. Way more ineffective than say, a bee sting. We simply wouldn’t feel it. And spiders – especially the big(ish) brown house spider – the one that tends to fall in the bath isn’t called that for nothing. (Actually, their posh name is Tegenaria and they can live for up to seven years, providing some idiot doesn’t squash them). They are cohabitees, just as house mice are – but more of them later.

UK spiders are harmless
So why do so many people fear spiders? It's probably because of the way they walk (the spiders, not the people). They’re well endowed in the leg department, but they’ve only got two more than the much-loved bee. And they can’t fly and they can’t sting . The fact is that the bee – bumble, worker or otherwise has a far better PR machine than the spider.

Then there’s the slug. Oh dear. He/she/it gets a really bad press because they’re very good at eating almost anything humans plant in their gardens.

Quite often, my very house/garden proud neighbours go on pre-emptive strikes against slugs, scattering pellets, and spraying poisons over their little patch of Eden. Weirdly, they try to avoid snails because, well, snails are rather sweet, aren’t they? They carry their little houses around on their backs, don’t they? Actually, snails are merely slugs with an outer shell, and do just as much damage to your legumes as slugs do. I don’t think that slugs should be allowed to run riot – well not “run” exactly – but I also don’t think they should be exterminated. North American plains Indians killed a lot of buffalo , but they did it for meat and fur, unlike the white man who slaughtered millions – to the point of extinction, just for the hell of it.
Buffalo do just as much damage to your legumes as slugs do.

“Ah!”, says the expert – but slugs can carry lungworm eggs. Yes they can, but so can your dog.

The other morning, as I tottered into the kitchen, I noticed that I was being eyeballed by a tiny brown mouse who was sitting up, apparently leaning on the microwave. It had obviously gained access via the many holes in my admittedly wonky domestic security. Up a downspout or down an upspout. Anyway, we looked at each other for a while. The mouse cleaned its whiskers whilst keeping an exceptionally beady pair of eyes on the big fat human. I moved slowly and opened the back door, thinking that I’d be able to escort this furry little interloper into the garden. The mouse had other ideas. Running along the work surface and hiding under a colander was favourite.  I don’t know if mice have colander perception, but I could see the mouse and the mouse could see me. It cleaned its whiskers. But when I moved the colander, he/she got the drift, scurried down a mop handle and out into my garden, quite possibly to gossip with the slugs about the strange human who doesn’t kill mice and won’t squash slugs....     

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