RICHARD ORD: The sweet smell of spider mustard gas

Giant Salmon-pink Bird-eater Spider (Lasiodora parahybana)

Giant Salmon-pink Bird-eater Spider (Lasiodora parahybana)

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NOTHING beats the great smell of spider mustard gas. I never leave the house without splashing it all over. Don’t you?

Anyone downwind of me this week may have wondered why there was a faint whiff of peppermint in the air.

Well I’ll tell you. It’s a bi-product of the bloody conflict known as The Spider Wars.

I have not been on a health drive, guzzling peppermint tea to flush out toxins, but have been splashing peppermint oil around our house to flush out another toxic pest … the spider.

My wife’s war on spiders has been well documented in this column, but it has escalated over the last month with the arrival of a few heavyweight arachnids around the house. Hence the peppermint.

She read somewhere that spiders find peppermint oil so repellent they will flee for their spider lives at the first whiff. It’s like a spider version of mustard gas.

While most sensible people would shake their heads and exclaim “whatever will they come up with next?”, our Michelle went straight out and secured herself a bottle of peppermint oil and ordered me to splash it around the most likely spider bases.

They are not as hard to find as you may expect. The reason being, they are already marked by piles of conkers!

The conkers are the remnants of the first Battle of the Spiders. Conkers are to spiders, what Kryptonite is to Superman. Again, it’s something my wife read and acted on it.

It’ll come as no surprise to you when I say that neither the barrage of conkers or the peppermint oil salvo has repelled the spider onslaught. But still they come, as Jeff Wayne might have said. Instead, I’m continually chasing the critters round the front room with the spider cup (that’s the special mug that we use to trap the spiders) while Michelle and kids leap up and down on the settee shouting “Geddit, geddit, there it is. Quick. What’s wrong with you? Geddit!”

Honestly, it’s the only exercise I get these days.

Once captured, I can’t just chuck my prisoner out of the front door. I have to release it further down the street. My wife is convinced they return.

As I remarked last time: “They’re not homing spiders you know.” She was having none of it.

These days I pretend to take them out down the street, and instead, hang about for a couple of minutes before chucking them into next door’s garden.

It’ll take some explaining if I ever get caught. Me, in my dressing gown and slippers, in the dead of night, throwing a spider into next door’s flower bed. “Erm, it’s not what it looks like.” But hey, I like to live dangerously.

There are those who think we humans may be over-reacting in our fear of spiders.

Not so. I prefer to think that we afford them the same level of acceptance we would any other creature with EIGHT legs, EIGHT eyes, TWO reproductive organs in their FACES, who fire webs out of their backsides!

Taking all that into consideration, I reckon the fact we scream and try to conker and peppermint them out of existence, suggests they get off lightly.