Drumroll please, 8-armed drummer, for this is the first of our guest contributions. See the “Guest Contributions” tab for more details about this new exciting feature which may/may not return later on, depending on how many humans are left after Spidergeddon. If you want to feature here in the future, send in your photos, text, finger-paintings or anything else to scarymail@scarywebs.com.  

So, our first guest contribution is from Professor. J. In this important, informative article we have a serious look at what happens to our brains when we see a spider, and how the evil seeps into our psyche. I’ll leave you in Professor J’s capable hands…

Spience

If we’re being completely up front about this, I think we can all admit to finding spiders just a wee bit unsettling. Go on, you don’t have to tell me but you can just nod at the monitor. As somebody with several science-type qualifications who’s seen quite a few spiders around the house and sometimes in the shed I’m going to explore with you today some of the reasons why we find spiders bothersome and what you can do to make sharing a planet with them a bit more bearable.

 Spiders are unpredictable

 If you see a human mooching around somewhere, you can be pretty sure which direction they’re going to move in. It’s going to be forwards. You don’t often see people move backwards or sideways. Same goes for tigers really – their whole thing is based around running very fast forwards too, so if you’re behind a tiger there’s not much to be concerned about (disclaimer: don’t ever go anywhere near tigers as they’ll catch you and eat you). Crabs are a little bit more difficult because they can go left or right with no indication, but at least there’s still a safe zone to the front and back.

 Spiders, though are what we professionals call a ‘whole different kettle of fish’. If you stand in front of a spider, it might run at you. Behind? Still in danger. To the left or right? Nope. Wherever you are in relation to a spider, you’re a target.

 I’m a pretty dab hand with scientifically accurate diagrams so I’ll use one here to explain it in layman’s terms:

graphic 1

Spiders have lots of legs

 It’s a well known phenomenon in science circles that the number of legs on a species is directly proportional to the number of people who are scared by that species. This is largely because legs can be used for so many things, and the more of them you have the more things those legs can be doing at any one time.

 Take Paula Radcliffe. Paula can run a marathon on two legs in 2h 15m or thereabouts. Assuming each of her legs provides half the energy she needs to propel herself to the finish line, imagine what eight legs can do for you! We can find out by working through the maths like so:

 2 legs = 2h 15m

4 legs = 1h 7.5m

8 legs = 33m 45s

 So although Paula is an incredible runner and an inspiration to us all, she would have a torrid time keeping up with our friend the spider who could probably run 26 miles in just over half an hour! To further illustrate the point I’ve included a graph from the popular science book “Legs – Getting One Over on the Competition” (Harper et al 2009):

graphic 2

This neatly leads into the next area in which spiders scare us all silly. Speed.

 Spiders can run very fast.

 Spiders aren’t slow. I mean, you’re not scared of a hedgehog or a snail because a quick sprint will take you well out of harm’s way when they start kicking off. Applying the same mathematic principles from the previous chapter we see that – yet again – spiders come out on top of the nature pile and will make a mockery of your sprinting. We’re going to pop Paula back into this equation here – her marathon running prowess yields an average running speed over the 26 miles of 11.55555555555556 mph. Gordon Bennett, that’s impressive. Well, prepare to have your socks well and truly blown off:

 2 legs = 11.55555555555556 mph

4 legs = 23.11111111111111 mph

8 legs = 46.22222222222222 mph

 FORTYSIXMILESPERHOUR. To put that in context, that’s faster than popular American automobile the Ford Model T and not far off the top speed of an American Quarter Race Horse. So if you’re confronted with a spider don’t even think about hopping in your popular car or on your horse, they’ll chase you down without breaking into a sweat.

 Spiders – they’re a concern

 That just about brings an end to my small foray into the science behind the fear of spiders. As we’ve seen in this illustrated guide spiders are 360 degree killing machines with three times as many legs as Paula Radcliffe who can definitely run at almost 50 miles per hour. If you were playing Top Trumps then spiders would be banned.

 What can you do to feel safe around these ultra-death multi-eyed turbo-legs ultra-speeders? Well, looking at our first diagram the clever amongst you will probably be thinking “Ah HA. I know, I’ll just stand above a spider to be out of the circle of death. That’s only a 2D diagram so I’m safe up here in my third dimension.” Well I’ve got some bad news for you bub. Jumping spiders are a thing that exists and according to sources they can jump 25 times their body length. If they were a human that would work out at 150 feet. That’s around two thirds the length of a football pitch!

 So in short, you probably can’t do anything. They can walk into your house at night, tippy-tapping all over your naked body, sleeping on your toothbrush and chilling in your underwear drawer. They can see more, kick more, run faster and set webby traps for you to walk into on your bleary-eyed struggle to the cereal each morning. Yep, you’re pretty much screwed.

 My advice? Make friends.

 

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hoover dodger

You don’t know, man, you weren’t even there.

This spider was. In the kitchen, halfway up the wall, around head height. I know this looks like the other huge kitchen spider from a while back, but its actually slightly smaller. Which means somehow I got the camera even closer to pick out the details on it. It also means that there’s more than one of these bastards in the house.

For the last few days this skittering shitfit has been testing out the best spot on the wall to get a view out the window. It wasn’t thinking about the cupboard door which would’ve crushed its tiny skull if I’d opened it fully. Or maybe it knew exactly what it was doing, as spiders don’t have skulls. Or bones. Or toenails. Or television licenses, the freeloading scum.

So this scheming brainiac found itself halfway up my kitchen wall, knowing exactly what my plans were for this weekend. Yes, its the annual outing of the hoover. Other brands of vacuum cleaner are available. In fact mine is a Tesco’s own cheapo bagless cylinder jobby, so I’m not sure why I called it a hoover. Just brand habit I guess, like saying Sellotape for stickybacked plastic or Cleano’s Arsewipes for toilet paper.

Vacuum day is annoying for all. For me, I have to dig it out of the dark horrible cupboard I stick all my useless junk, drag it round the place and spend the rest of the day sneezing and wheezing. My neighbours get the fun of an afternoon listening to the horrendous loud whining. Then once I’ve actually got the box out of the cupboard they have to listen to the cylinder spinning up an earpiercing scream as I move it from plug socket to plug socket. But worst of all, the spiders have to run for their lives as the plastic tube of death comes for them.

Writing this blog has made me slightly more sympathetic to the plight of my arachnid neighbours, so I no longer dance with glee as I suck the webs from every dark corner. However, I must admit that many may have been lost during the Spinnenacht of 2013. I apologise. But, of course, the spider above was not one of these. It saw what was happening and got out early. Get halfway up a wall, well away from the webs of the lower dwellers. Get into the kitchen, far enough from the stairs for the extension cord to snap back as the hoover gets close to the door.

Scaryness: 7. This spider has stared into the abyss unblinking, then jabbed the abyss in the eye and laughed as the abyss ran off crying.

 

Image

Have you seen this season’s fashions dahhhling? They’re so outrageous, so out there, so now. Stripes are out. Colour blocking is so last year. This year it’s all about cute brown circular patterns. So if that’s what you’re wearing, don’t hide yourself in a corner, show it off!

Some spiders are so hip and happening that they’ll hide away for years just because their markings are unfashionable. Have you seen the Camouflage spider recently? No? Exactly. As for the Global Hypercolour spider, that’s not dared be seen since the early 90’s. It came out once in august 2007, but when everyone laughed at its outdated fashion its face turned red with embarrasment and it slunk back into a hiding place till it returned to its normal yellowy-blue colour. Let us not discuss the poor Shell Suit spider. (highly flammable).

This model above however is so proud of its on-trend motifs that its rushed out of the gaps in the woodwork and placed itself out and proud against the white painted beam which props up the roof. This is just above head height, and pretty much the first thing I see when I walk in the living room. It might as well be going *Ta DAAAA* and giving it some jazz hands everytime I walk in.

Scaryness: 2. How can you be scared by someone so fashion conscious? Think of the famous fashionable people for a minute: how scary are they? Michelle Obama? Nope. David Beckham? Nope. Kate Moss? Nope. Fred Astaire? Nope. Grace Jones? Nop… Oh ok, bad example, but generally they’re not scary.

Image

That cushion’s too big, isn’t it? Or is it too small? Or the wrong shape. Just throw it over there and get it out the way.

That’s better.

No. Now my back hurts a bit. Get that cushion back here again.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try you just can’t get comfortable. This spider knows how you feel. It started off with a nice patch of wall by the front door. Plenty of sunshine, good supply of flies and room to hang a number of webs. But the cold drafts were too much, so time for a move.

Next, upstairs to the bathroom wall. Another nice large expanse of web potential here. Also a bit warmer, so a much better place to hang around and clip your toenails. But no, perhaps the humidity of the daily shower got too much and yet again the bags were packed and the maps got out for another trip.

Finally, somewhere quite nice. A warm room with normal humidity and not many drafts. Quite a large wall, although sharing with a couple of friendly neighbours. Maybe this will be the place. One problem, it’s in my bedroom, and you’ve decided to live only a couple of feet from my head. I’m sure you’re lovely and everything, but I’ve called the council and they’re getting you evicted. Sorry.

Scaryness: 7. One of these horrid looking things with a fat body and stubby little legs. I could tolerate it from a distance, but when you wake up facing something which looks like this, you know something’s gone wrong with your life.

curtains for you

Morning!

Don’t you hate that feeling when you wake up and you’re not quite sure what the time is? Do I need to get out of bed yet, or can I roll over and just close my eyes for a couple more minutes? What day is it again? Do I need to go to work?

Oh, it’s May. I suppose I’d better get up then.

Spiders everywhere have been rolling their multiple eyes and struggling out of their bedsocks over the last few weeks. As they brush their teeth they’re trying to recall a dream they had in February which is now lurking just beyond the event horizon of their memory. Which outfit did they wear to the office last time? Can’t be seen to be wearing the same look two years in a row.

So, off to work. Work being lurking around in corners and crevices and generally being a bit annoying. Take this ‘ere ‘orror for ‘xample. Still busy wiping the sleep from its eyes, it thinks its found the perfect spot for a quick snooze. But fuzzy morning head forgot that section of bathroom curtain is exactly where I put my hand when I open it each day. If I’d not been quite so unusually alert I’d have a squish mark on there now, and I’d probably still be stood at the sink trying to wash the skin off my fingers.

Scaryness: 6. It’s not huge or hairy or too freaky looking, but its there. Hiding dozily in the folds of my curtains, just trying to stay awake till Lunchtime.

patterned

It’s been a bit barren, creature-related, these last few weeks. There are a few still scurrying about, tending to webs and worrying about what type of decomposing insect to serve for Christmas lunch. But they’re all out favourites that have already been photographed and adored by the masses. I’m only really interested in fresh talent, and I’ve got a few things planned to stick up here, so hopefully semi-normal service will be resumed next year.

But for now, here’s a festive looking spider for you. Well, not the spider itself, but the red/green patterned thing it’s crawling about on. I’d not seen this type of spider before, or since, with it’s fat body placed directly in the centre of it’s equally proportioned legs. It looks a bit like a mechanical spider from a terrible film, but shrunk and made flesh. Perhaps if you look clodely there’s a tiny Kenneth Branagh or Kevin Kline perched atop it, twirling their moustache as they wrestle with the controls.

Scaryness: 4. It looks a bit odd, like a child’s drawing of a spider. But that’s not as scary as a real-life version of a child’s drawing of a man would be, nor as scary as a child’s drawn car would be to drive. The festive background helps to give a jolly feel to it as well. As it’s the season to be jolly, pull up a chair and have a slice of turkey, spidey. But leave the roast potatoes for me. They’re mine. Piss-taking bastard.

 

 

 

It’s been a full week since I last updated here. Not because the spiders have been hiding, but rather it took a while to get this corner of my house looking just shabby enough to appear in a photo. If all you can see are cracks in plaster and a slightly shoddy wooden windowframe, then I invite you to take a second look (as if you were looking at Henry’s cat). What’s that dark shape in the corner? The one which looks a bit like a miniature octopus wrapped in cotton wool. That’s a spider, that is!

It’s not overly warm, or overly cold here, and I suppose that leaves the spiders in a bit of a quandry. Do they go about their usual summery/autumnal ways, making webs, looking for lady-spiders, throwing frisbees in the park? Or should they get ready for winter, fatten up and put on the wooly jumpers? Well, this particular spider has found a middle-ground. For a few weeks now it’s been spinning it’s web up every night, then taking it down again during the day and sleeping in the corner, all wrapped up in it’s own little hammock. This spider used to leave it’s web up all the time during the summer, lurking in it, looking out the window and generally larking around. But now the days are a bit shorter it can’t be arsed half the time, so just goes to sleep. I know how it feels.

Scaryness: 2. It was already quite harmless, but now wrapped up in a little duvet of its own making its even less evil.

 

Not too long ago someone told me that they quite liked looking at my spiders, but what really caught their attention in my photos was the state of my house. I laughed this off, but secretly I squirmed with shame. I’ve not been living here too long, and all the scuffing and scratching and flakey paintwork really can’t be blamed on me. That’s what I tell myself everytime I take a photo and see the tattyness of the background.

Take this shot, for example. All I could see was the eight-legged shuttlebus in the foreground when I set my camera on the ground. But then when scrolling through the images after moving them to my laptop my eye is drawn to the fluff, the scratches, the scuffs and marks which make this photo look so much scarier.

But, I’m sorry to tell you, its all a fake. All this is pure construction added to the each indoor photo to make my flat look more decrepit, to give it that extra creepy haunted-house feeling. In reality I live in a white marble palace kept spotless at all times by a crack team of dedicated, beautiful ladies and gentlemen with cleaning products, feather dusters and OCD. Every photograph I take looks far too sterile, like they’re stock photos taken in a zoo or science lab. To make them appear like a normal, nay, shabby house I have to put each frame through a filter, using an app called Instagrim. It makes my shiny home look like a shithole. I think you’ll agree that it’s working quite well.

Which brings me to the kitchen. I emptied the bin, moved it out from the corner and watched this fella look up at me, wondering where his roof had gone. With a nice flat surface to put the camera on, I thought I’d go for a profile view.

Scaryness: 5. It’s not too large, but is quite fat. Which makes it a bit scarier. But only a 4, I think. I’ve added an extra scaryness point for the angle my skirting board juts up away from the floor. Who the hell put that in? Have they not heard of a spirit level?

It’s that time of year where all things creepy and scary suddenly become trendy and acceptable. Cinemas fill up with rubbish horror films, full of loud noises and flashy images designed to make you jump out of your seat due to pure reflex. Small children tour the local neighbourhood, knocking on doors and demanding sweets. Women dress up either as something zombiefied or witchified, or something with the prefix “sexy”. All those things are wrong. That’s not real terror. That’s a couple of days or nights of gentrified scaryness in order to get the heart beating faster so you can turn to your loved ones to hold a hand or hide your eyes, and then laugh as you realise that actually everything’s alright.

Everything’s not alright. There are spiders.

Once Halloween’s over and you’re all looking up at the fireworks, down at the frost and ahead to the Christmas presents, my eyes are still scanning around for scurrying evil.

Which brings us to this photo. You can enjoy the frighteningly sharp footed freak in a seasonal mood. Recoil in shock and revulsion, then peek back with a smile on your face that it’s far away beyond the screen. For me it’s here, somewhere, everywhere, forevermore.

Scaryness: 7. This one wasn’t large, but is quite pointy. Maybe I’m becoming desensitised by this project, or it’s just the season for it. If I’d seen this a couple of months ago my head would’ve exploded through fear.

 

What’s for lunch, spidey? Errr,  a strangely angular thing, by the looks of it. I’m presuming this is lunch, though I really have no idea. Maybe it’s a spider briefcase, and its off to work. At foot-level under one of my kitchen units I could see our mysterious friend here holding a blob. Even when I got down to take the pictures, nothing become any clearer. The lack of colour and general drabness of this photo comes from the lack of light in my kitchen, meaning the camera has to strain a bit to get a proper shot, and that usually means draining the colour and making things go all blurry. A bit of a steady hand, or clever resting position can get rid of the blur, but I can’t yet work out how to re-colourise it.
So, detectives, what do you think is in the parcel? I’d have normally just said a fly, but doesn’t it look like there are some strangely sharp corners on there? Does spider-wrapping really get better neat right angles than me attempting to cover Christmas presents?

Scaryness: 5. Not huge, but not tiny. not head-height, which is good, but ankle-height gives it the power to run up my leg which is never nice. I think a couple of months ago I’d have given this beast a 6 or a 7, so maybe this whole blog thing is working. Or maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps that tiny package is actually a bomb? Are they lulling me into a false sense of security? I have nothing to fear from them, they want me to think. I’l let them cover my walls in webs while they run up and down, planting tiny explosives in every corner. Then, once their fly supply is dried up, Kaboom! Everything collapses into rubble, leaving them with a nice, err, pile of rubble to string webs across. And eat my corpse.