The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Spider on window

Spider on window

There are many more spiders in the countryside than in town. After 25 years I am finally happy to live alongside these arachnids and 99% of the time, I enjoy their company and their transient webs.

I used to kill all spiders that I found in the bath in London. Large hairy-legged beasts that alarmed me. I imagined they were on holiday from the drains. Now I realise that they were visiting for a drink and a bit of gentle exercise.

After a few weeks in the country I decided to stop killing spiders and try to get accustomed to them.  It wasn’t just an occasional one in the bath. Out in the sticks, spiders are everywhere. From spiders so tiny they look like a spot of dust to ones that seem big enough to pull on my Wellingtons. I had a full time job. Spider hunting had begun to spiral out of control.

Spiders upsize to the countryside. There are far more flies and tasty insects there. Apart from birds looking for spider snacks they have few enemies and the space to exist with very little human contact. The city spiders are eking out a living with few local resources. When they need a drink they have to run the gauntlet of visiting a human’s bathroom or kitchen. Country spiders have ponds and puddles and heavy dew to salve their thirst. Only the laziest countryside spider needs to saunter into a bathroom to drink.

Some lucky ones must have accidentally stowed away on removal vans and found themselves in rural paradise. A spider lived on Jalopy’s wing mirror all last winter. It travelled to Cambridge, Saffron Walden and Bury St Edmunds. The motorways stretched the spider’s web to the limits and it was often ripped to shreds. But each evening the web was repaired when I opened Jalopy’s door at dusk. And then, one day in Spring, the spider had gone.

I hope that this spider found a mate and decided to stay here to breed after a turbulent start in life on the wing of my car.

There must be generations of spiders that have lived in this cottage and garden for hundreds of years. Spider families usually have a much longer association with a location than most humans. If we could speak Arachnid, I bet we’d discover that the oddities are the long distance travellers and the hero who survived on Jalopy’s wing.

I meet a lot of spiders when I’m decorating. It’s a time when I’m close to long stretches of skirting and coving. Is some sort of social or professional one-upmanship going on between those at the top and those at the bottom of a wall?

They look like they same breed of spider but which are the hedge fund managers?

  Leave a reply


  1. We had quite a few different types of spiders living in and around the cottage. Thankfully they don’t bother me and as far as I’m concerned they can eat the flies!

    I also have a wing mirror spider!

  2. I have been following this blog for quite a while now and enjoy every entry. I have yet to comment and this article was so well written, I just had to say how much I enjoyed it.

    I like in Tucson Arizona and spiders here are a wonderful blessing. We suffer with many, many insect problems due to the mild weather and the spiders eradicate ants, mosquitoes and so much more. I always consider it good luck to see the orb spiders at work.

    If I am real lucky a tarantula will pay me a visit. I have not seen one in years though. I shall have to pinch some from a friends ranch who lives nearby.

    At any rate, thank you for your great blog. I enjoy it immensely!

    Wishing you the best of everything,

  3. Fiona, I usually just live with spiders as well, or try to set them free. A couple of weeks after moving into my new flat there was one that was just too big for comfort though and I have to confess trying to hit it with a shoe. I missed though and it scuttled off under the sofa, never to be seen again.
    I’ve tagged you for a bread baking challenge, hope you don’t mind. It’s on my blog.

  4. Hi Fiona

    My wing mirror spider has travelled much further afield than yours did. It regularly travels between North Cumbria and SW Lancs and has even been to Kent! Of course there are also times when it can languish undisturbed for up to a fortnight when I’m just at home. My policy on spiders and insects generally is that if they respect my space they are quite safe. I don’t go looking for them, although I do clean up more obvious cobwebs in my house from time to time, and if possible I will catch them in a glass with a piece of paper and chuck them out of the window. Dare I confess to occasionally having vacuumed up large spiders that were just too obviously in my space? I know that people say that they just crawl out again but If I can’t see them escape then that’s ok with me.

  5. samantha winter

    Hi Fi
    Many years ago I took a plumbing course and learnt how to live with under sink spiders! When you’ve got your hands full of other things there is nothing you can do about them.
    However I still object to the really big one that runs across the living room floor every now and then. I think this one has 9 lives as it has seen the bottom of a shoe more than once!

  6. Jane aka:aromatic

    Sorry, I have tried, I really have.. but I absolutely loath them. If one so much as looks at me I am in total panic. I am a country girl, I live in the countryside and the blasted things are everywhere.. but nothing will stop my fear of them. My Mum is fine with them as is my other-half they will pick them up and let them run over their hands… me I am gone….
    Jane xxx

  7. What an unusual subject and you make it so interesting.

    We have a wing mirror spider too – we often wonder what it thinks of the forays out of the garage and into the often wet and windy wild blue yonder.

    So laughed at your joke about the big ones being able to pull on your wellingtons! x

  8. grumpyoldwoman

    I have an orb spider that lives between my wheelie bin and the fencing panel behind it – I bash its web down every day but it is always back in the morning. Now, I am wondering, did this spider come from Jalopy’s wingmirror on your way through Bury St Edmunds. If so – would you like it back? Please…..

  9. I can’t stand them. Now I haven’t it but some years ago I had to live with a lot of them in a house in the woods.Stupid things. And fat ones too.

  10. Spiders are just so strange. The ones that I really do not like, are the ones that are nearly clear. Like there legs are made from very thing strands of glass. Gives me the shudders even thinking about those ones.

    Bet you have to give some areas a good dust before you paint, else you get cobwebs in the paint?

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