Tales From The Webside

I don’t have a problem with spiders, not really; l mean, if they keep their distance, l am pretty good about it all, and the feeling is possibly mutual. I don’t go out of my way to upset them, but I am fascinated with them. They send a kind of creepy pleasurable shudder through me when l see them up close. It’s hard to explain, but kind of like a ‘nice to feel scared, but not scared at all’ sensation?

 My first excursion with this species began when l was around five years of age. I lived in Australia back in the ’60s in the Dandenong Ranges, in Victoria. There are no ‘actual’ photographs of mine to display here to add realism. As is always the case with most people – there is never a camera when needed. But then, admittedly, l was five. As such, l was into most things that l didn’t particularly wish to have my parents photograph me doing!

Where l used to live, our post [mail] box was not attached to our door and probably still the same for many rural households in Oz. It was on a post down the drive in a rockery – quite ingenious if you think on it, a post and a box equals ‘postbox’. The rockeries were a big thing in gardens back then, probably once again still the same. All sorts of creepy crawlies and critters lurked beneath those rocks! From the innocent to the devious!

Back then, creepy crawlies were my passion, so l am no longer surprised today because they still are! I loved the pretty colours and how they moved and scuttled away as l moved the rocks to the left, to the right, tipped them up. 

A few spiders dwelled under those rocks, funnel webs, redbacks, occasionally mouse spiders, trapdoors, whitetails, and one of my all-time favourites, the huntsman. Of course, l wasn’t aware when l was five of the names, just that they looked ‘pretty’. Equally, l wasn’t aware of any of the dangers that lurked within them either – who would – l was five!

But the Redbacks were a beautiful spider. Now l did know because my parents constantly told me that l was NOT to pick up any by hand. As Mum used to say, ‘They had a nasty bite, and l might get poorly‘, note the term poorly and not the word dead. So because there was no deadly attachment, the spiders must be ok to collect, l figured!

So l collected them for my parents to see when they woke up – l forgot to mention that l guess, but intrepid explorers don’t stick to convention, you know. Oh no, so l used to rise at around 5 am, get dressed in shorts and thongs [flip flops], and go outside armed with lollypop sticks and a glass jar!

Poking around the rockery, and should any hapless and harmless little eight-legged creature dare to venture out, stick its tongue out at me, and boof, on the stick, in the jar! It was all quite exciting. They used to climb up the stick and nearly got to my fingertips but never made it and were promptly dropped into their new glass cave!

When l had a relatively large collection of my chosen spider for the day, happy as a lark, l would strut my stuff back to the house and put them into the fridge, so they were cool from the sun! More importantly, they were there when my parents woke up.

Aah, the memories are sweet. I was like a cat with a mouse showing my pack leaders my catch for the day. One memory quite significantly l recall with fondness!

My Father, the gallant and mighty policeman, made me breakfast one morning and asked if l wanted Fruitloops. As they were my favourite, l said yes, please. He opened the fridge and suddenly froze; before this strange gargling sound escaped his lips, it was most bizarre. 

“Rory, have you been outside this morning?”

“Yes, Daddy! I collected presents for you and Mummy!”

“So this jar is yours?”

No, it’s yours, and Mummy’s.”

“It’s full of spiders Rory, little black ones with red spots … red spots, the red-spotted spider is the …….. it’s the REDBACK!!!”

“Pretty spiders, lots of pretty spiders for you and Mummy!”

He then acted strangely and called my Mother into the Kitchen! “Look what your Son has collected from outside for us both this morning!?” [I was always my mother’s responsibility when something like this was happening]

Then Mummy shrieked and ran around the house. Daddy took my jar of cold spiders out of the house and tipped them away, which upset me quite a bit as l had gone to so much trouble to collect them!

Some people – even parents, are never grateful l feel!

However, l had to go through the parental talk concerning the dangers of picking up the Redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti) as it could kill me – like there are so many variations of being dead, l guess.  Although l have read since then that whilst l might not have died even at five, l probably would not have been very well.  Quite possibly just poorly had l, of course, managed to get to a hospital that just also happened to have the antivenom, but who knows, l was never bitten.

Re-Blog of Along Came the Spider’s …… 1968Main Image

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37 thoughts on “Tales From The Webside

  1. My husband has always had a love for the creepy crawlies. He has a pet tarantula as a child (knowing his Mom I am surprised) and has always pointed out various critters, what they are and do. He is the reason I now have a pet snake (I have always hated snakes). I made the mistake of saying that I would try at some point to have a snake if it was a baby as size does matter in my fear of snakes. I said in the future at some point and he took that as now so two weeks later he came home with a baby ball python and the whole set up for her. She is now about six feet long and I do love her. I am still apprehensive of snakes but with Chris around I have learned to be inquisitive and respectful.

    1. Ah snakes, one always has to be respectful. I angered a python once purely by refreshing the water. I am surprised l am still here to tell the tale. It entwined itself over my right arm up to my neck. As a novice to snakes l had a hell of a time getting it to release me!

      Still don’t do snakes of any kind or any reptiles.

      1. I as a general rule don’t mind reptiles but snakes took a lot of getting overcoming fears. Calypso has been a big part of that.

        1. I am not scared of snakes, but l am forever mindful of pythons especially since my scare. I worked for years with animals or rather mammals and just never had any great vibes with reptiles.

          A lot of the keepers l worked with were huge reptile fans.

          Well done for overcoming your fear and becoming a snake owner 🙂

        2. Thanks. That is so cool that you have been able to work to that extent with wild/exotic animals! My husband loves birds of prey so I am thinking of getting him to go to one of the local raptor rescues around here to volunteer or some such. I know he would love it!

  2. 🙂 I was fascinated by spiders as a child. I remembered playing with them.

    As I grew older, I learned that some species of spiders were actually poisonous (But, that did not prevent me from appreciating them).

  3. Hahaha! What a scene you’ve described. I can just imagine the horror of your parents at the “present”. 🕷🕷🕷

  4. I, too, have a fondness for spiders, for various reasons.

    I can just imagine your parents response to your gift, Rory! What an exciting life you must have led them! They should have appreciated your ingenuity more than is apparent. 😊

    I can smile about it because my younger daughter was adept at presenting such surprise gifts. She was about 5 yrs. also, when she filled my visiting Grandmother’s Chopper Hopper (denture bath) with what we called Sand Fleas (shrimp looking creatures that lived in the sand at the beach). Granny was greatly surprised when she opened it that night to soak her teeth. 😆 I can still hear her yelling my daughter’s name, knowing at once who must have been responsible.

    1. Hey Betty 🙂

      Hahahaha excellent story –

      When l was younger l used to have a mish mash saying that l would use on my parents to their continued annoyance at times … “Curiouser and curiouser said the Cheshire Cat!”

      That’s who l am l would shrill as l ran off laughing!

      My parents hated it because they would always say “It wasn’t the Cheshire cat who said that! Why do you never get that right?”

  5. One of those redbacks (a female, at that) bit me on the neck when I was cleaning out a shed. It hurt like I’ve never experienced before or since, and for at least ten days that pain stayed, the swelling red and blue and purple, and the neck stiff at that spot forever after.
    It’s not just the bite, it’s the long after-effects that make it dangerous, despite not all that many people dying from it.
    I’m not afraid of spiders (now, but I had to train myself to be that way) and I keep a few ‘pets’ in the house (some of them kill the mossies, bad-guy spidies, etc.), and the wolf-spider got booted after it wandered in from the heat, but I won’t ever mess around in a shed without clearing out all the messy redback webs first, and then double-checking with each item removed.
    That pain left a long, long memory.

    1. Hey Cage, that is of course spot on. It’s not just the bite at the time, it’s the after effects of the venom in your body and how it continues to attack.

      It’s a bit like the long covid that people are suffering with here, they survived the disease only for the effects to linger with them long afterwards.

      As l aged when living down under, l became more respectful of the spiders and steered clear of the rockeries and more so after one of the neighbours daughters died after being bitten.

      Big learning curve – HUGE!

      1. I wonder if she was bitten by a funnel-web? Not common to have a death from a brown funnel-web (the Sydney funnel-webs are black and nastier), but the venom in a brown can still cause heart palpitations, and ,therefore, death in a vulnerable person.
        The male redbacks have less venom, so less likely to die from the male, but the females on eggs? Big problem.

        1. Well, she was in fact bitten by a funnel web.

          My sister was born in 1968 in Sydney. We lived in New South Wales from the end of 1968 having moved from Boronia, Victoria where dad was a policeman at the time in Melbourne

          He had been accepted into the RAAF and prior to being shipped to Butterworth, Malaysia, we lived in Sydney.

          Dad was posted out in 1969, the neighbour’s daughter died a few months after my sister was born.

          I remember all too well my parents giving me the talk and telling me that Malaysia would be just as dangerous.

  6. Daughter has arachniphobia BIG TIME, so I am the Official Spider Relocater. They don’t bother me, and some of them ARE very pretty… orb weavers are amazing to watch.

    Black Widows do occasionally get squished if I can’t safely relocate them. Ben loves to explore in the type of places they prefer, and he has no concept of “danger”🤦🏼‍♀️

    1. The concept of danger arrives as we get older when we are starting to become cynical to life and that slow realisation that innocence is a thing of the past.

  7. I think it is a boyhood thing, being fascinated with spiders and snakes. When I was growing up, girls were known to be more of a “fraidy cat” when approached by an insect or reptile. When we lived in Florida, there would an occasional snake in our backyard and even our garage. Those of you who know me know I have a fear of snakes.

    It’s rare when we see an insect in our apartment but when we do our cat, Callie, has already made history of it. We pay her well! lol

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