I woke up this morning to a dismembered corpse beside my bed. Huge black body flattened with four legs sticking up skywards and then another four legs lying six inches away. Humphrey the cat sat nearby smugly admiring his handiwork. God only knows what horrors may have befallen me if his ginger paws hadn’t dealt a crushing blow or three. I still have nightmares about waking up with a spider on my face or in my hair or… in my mouth. The stories of people (allegedly) eating spiders in their sleep is really quite terrifying.
Mists and mellow fruitfulness. Chilly mornings and crunchy leaves. Sedums and spider silk. I adore autumn but I detest spiders. But, I don’t wish them dead. If at all possible. As a teenager, I splatted them (or screamed until my father did). As a student, I drowned them. As I’ve grown older, I revel in my newfound badass bravery – I’m becoming quite courageous at the old newspaper and glass trick. I mutter calming words to myself as I carry the catch outside, then do a virtual air punch as I hurl it into the garden and run back to the door, closing it firmly behind me. And then I silently shudder.
But what if there were a way to stop them (usually love-hungry males searching for a mate) coming into the house? Oh, but there is! The magnificent horse chestnut tree provides the simplest of solutions – the humble conker. Fallen from playground games glory but now revered for its spider scaring fumes. And providing conkers at just the right time of year too. Synchronicity. Isn’t nature clever?
Last autumn, I collected a handful and placed them around my bed and my bedroom window and door. And then, a colleague recommended an amazing spray made from horse chestnut essence, so I bought a bottle of that too, spraying it liberally around all the window ledges and doorways in my flat. It smelled delicious and appeared to work a treat – only one tenacious beastie in the corner of the bathroom for the whole of ‘Spider Season’.
This morning’s corpse is a timely reminder that it’s time for me to dust off this bottle of miracle liquid once again and wage war on amorous house spiders. Sorry Humphrey, no more eight-legged playthings for you…