17:56 Tuesday 6th September 2011
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
ANDY BURROWS: There’s several reports in the papers today about how spiders are invading our homes. You know hoe big they are. A colleague of mine was telling us that she’d never seen a spider so big in her house today. Matt Shardlow is from the Peterborough charity Buglife. Hello to you Matt.
MATT SHARDLOW: Hi there. How are you doing?
ANDY BURROWS: They’re all coming out to play, are they?
MATT SHARDLOW: They are. Yes. It’s the males, I’m afraid. They’ve come to that point in the year when they need to go and look for the girls. And the males are all coming out of their nooks and crannies, out from under the floorboards, having a good hunt around for some female company.
ANDY BURROWS: How do you sex a spider?
MATT SHARDLOW: Quite easily, actually, particularly house spiders which are pretty big. If you look at the front, the male’s got what we call effectively a pair of boxing gloves, a pair of little swollen pouches at the front, that it uses in the act. Whereas the female doesn’t have anything like that. The female tends to be bigger abdomened. But they’re both long-legged. The male is slighter. It’s usually the male that you’ll see at this time of year, coming out, hunting for his females.
ANDY BURROWS: How long do spiders live for? All I’ve got in my head right now, you completely threw me with the thought of a spider with enormous boxing gloves on, and hat’s how you know it’s a boy. But how long do spiders live for?
MATT SHARDLOW: Well the house spiders you get in your house can be several years old. Most spiders will live for a year. So most spiders have an annual life cycle, where they’ll lay eggs, they’ll die, and then the egg hatches, and then the spiders start. But then really big spiders, the big house spiders, some of those can be three or four, five years old. They can live a reasonable while.
ANDY BURROWS: Crikey ! Where do they hide?
MATT SHARDLOW: Under your floorboards, in your loft, in cavities in the walls. All sorts of places.
ANDY BURROWS: And what do they feed on?
MATT SHARDLOW: Well flies, and other things that get into your house. So they’re pretty usefiul little animals to have around, I think. I saw one last night actually. I was sat, watching telly, and one dashed out from under the sofa, straight under the telly. Five minutes later, dashed out from behind the telly. Great. Wonderful.
ANDY BURROWS: Yes. They are very curious, aren’t they? And of course they make beautiful webs, don’t they? It’s fascinating to see, when you find one, especially with the change in the seasons. You get a bit of dew on the web. It’s absolutely fascinating. A beautiful work of art.
MATT SHARDLOW: The big old webs in the garden. The garden spiders.Yes.
ANDY BURROWS: I always learn something Matt, when I speak to you. Not least of all that spiders can live for five years. That’s a great fact. I never knew that about the spider. Is that the best fact you’ve got?
MATT SHARDLOW: I’m sure it’s not. (THEY LAUGH)
ANDY BURROWS: Well save it for another time. Absolutely brilliant suff as always. Matt Shardlow there, from the Peterborough charity Buglife.