The Last Word on Life at the Lake: Lake Spiders

If you live by the lake and you have a dock, spiders are part of your daily life. Covered docks must be their perfect habitat, at least if the volume of webs that can build overnight are any indication of suitability. If you don’t go out on your dock with a cobweb sweeper every day, you don’t want to be the first person to walk out onto the dock. Ideally, the first person to go onto the dock each day would be someone a bit taller than you, so he or she can walk through and clear your path.

The biggest spider we’ve seen at the lake wasn’t on our dock but hiding under the cover of our well. Our home builder was showing me some stuff about our place and, when he popped the well cover off, a silver-dollar-sized spider ran out, and we both jumped back a few feet. Snakes, spiders and those massive creepy-crawly, hard-bodied millipede things that get in the house are things I never want to see. It’s like when a fly buzzes past my face and I think, “You have existed in my presence, and for that, I shall destroy you.”

So, when we had the chance to move to Australia, everyone I talked to started telling me about the country’s legendary spiders. “They’re the size of squirrels,” I heard. A quick online search revealed that they were not lying. You don’t have to look hard to find photos and videos of dinner-plate-sized spiders crawling around inside people’s homes.

The first month or so in Australia, I think my wife and I scanned every room we entered, looking for a hidden pancake-sized spider. We started to relax about it a bit as time went on, and we didn’t encounter any. Talking to the locals helped. In fact, they started to get a bit exasperated by our obsession with huge spiders. “Sure, they’re a bit ugly,” locals would say, “but they can’t hurt you…and they kill mosquitoes and cockroaches.”

When I did find a baby-sized version of one of the big spider species in our house, I killed it pretty quick and felt like maybe we’d get through all of our time in Australia without ever having to deal with them. Wrong.

A week or so later, we came home from dinner, and I asked our son to hop up on the gate outside of our house to unlock it. Just as he was reaching over to open the door, I said, “Is that one of those huge spiders?” The thing had materialized out of nowhere. It stood on the gate in a spotlight, and I’d guess it was close to a foot across. The kid screamed like the spider was going to drag him off, and we all backed slowly away while making our way to a different entrance.

The next day we told our neighbor about the massive spider. I thought most Aussies would have the same attitude of “just leave it alone” when it comes to spiders, but that’s when I learned that there’s another whole segment of the population that has more of a “send them back to hell” attitude about spiders.

We’ve had a couple more run-ins with spiders. On one of the kid’s birthdays, we spotted a good-sized spider on the window outside. I went out and sprayed it, and it ran under the door and into our house trying to get away from me. We’ve seen plenty of little ones out on the porch or in the garage, but thankfully so far, no poisonous ones. And, now that we’ve seen the huge ones, that’s where I’ve set my new bar: hopefully no poisonous ones.



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