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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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Ireland's 'giant spider invasion' is real... but here's what you need to know

It’s happening, but it’s normal.

A spider found in an Irish bedroom a few days ago. Read the article, and it may help you feel better. Source: ray182

IF YOU’VE BEEN reading the news over the last few weeks, you’ve probably seen some headlines about a ‘giant spider invasion’. Like this one, from the Irish Mirror:

Source: Irish Mirror

Or this, from the Belfast Telegraph:

Source: Belfast Telegraph

Or maybe you’ve seen lots of people posting on social media about the sudden influx of enormous eight-legged beasts around the place?

Many of the news stories are based around quotes from UK biologist Adam Hart, who has reportedly said that there is an increase in bigger spiders this year. ”This year has seemingly been a good one for the invertebrates that spiders feed on,” he told ITV News.

Here are your questions answered.

So is the giant spider invasion real?

Well, yes. Every autumn, there is an increase in sightings of large spiders in Irish houses, and some news stories about the Great Spider Invasion of two thousand and whatever. This is an annual event, popularly believed to occur as spiders flee the cooling weather for the nice warm confines of your gaff.

TL;DR: It’s happening, but it’s normal.

But are they bigger this year?

No. That’s definitive, according to Irish arachnologist Myles Nolan, who told DailyEdge.ie: “There is no evidence spiders are getting bigger.” He added:

Basically this has happened over the last 20 years every autumn. Each year a small number of people decide they’ve never seen as many big spiders in their life. But if they were getting bigger each year, by now they’d be the size of cats.

However, this is the stage in the life cycle of our most common spiders when they reach their full size. So they’re not necessarily bigger than last year – but they might be bigger than they were in spring. Basically, says Nolan, every year at this time:

The common house spider and common garden spider become adult and people start noticing them.

OK… there are definitely more of them, though?

Again, no. “There’s no substantial evidence that they are more numerous,” says Nolan.

He says again that each year, there may be a few cases where spider populations increase at a very local level – even in a particular house or street. This depends on a wide range of factors.

In short: it’s just possible that there might be more spiders in your house than usual. But this doesn’t mean the whole country is overrun.

And WHY ARE THEY COMING INTO MY HOUSE?

The phenomenon actually has little to do with weather, says Nolan. It’s adult male spiders looking for love, the poor wee divils. And they actually don’t really care about your house, they’re just roaming around.

The ones that are coming into the house, usually they’re adult males and they’re looking for females. But they’re not entering the house because they know they’ll find females there. They’re just wandering around the outside. And they might come in an open window, fall into a bath and get stuck, and that’s when you see them.

A spider disappointed in its search for romance :( Source: AndyRobertsPhotos

Wh… what can I do about this?

We-ell… not much, really. “It’s very difficult to stop them coming in,” says Nolan. As a spider expert, he would prefer if people didn’t kill them. Instead, he recommends picking them up and dropping them in a field or a neighbour’s garden down the road – if you leave them outside the front door, he says, they’re just as likely to find their way in again.

However, he notes that if you don’t like spiders, you probably should do SOMETHING about them.

If you leave them be, eggs will be laid and that will mean there may be a potential that there will be more spiders next year.

So now.

More: Here’s why you don’t need to freak out about the ‘spider hell house’ in Carlow>

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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