A recent spate of incidents involving rogue spiders has led to renewed calls for police to stamp out the problem before it gets out of hand and wash it down the plughole.
Camilla Raven, author of a report on the subject, said something had to be done, adding that before arriving at work this morning she had found a spider in the bath, had almost swallowed a spider when walking into a face-level web across her front door, and had then been unable to open her car window because the spider sitting in the web between her mirror and door was waiting to get her.
‘There was a time when arachnids knew their place and went about their business of catching flies without terrorising the community,’ said Inspector Dick Barnside of West Midlands Police. ‘Not that I’m condoning their methods, which breach so many animal welfare regulations it’s not true, but at least you knew where you were. Spiders were spiders and coppers were form fillers.’
Raven said that ready access to plentiful supplies of easy-to-catch flies and centrally-heated houses had left spiders with time on their hands, while breakdown of traditional social networks meant that young spiders lacked the moral code that would prevent them targeting respectable people in and around their homes. Attempts to tackle the problem at source by educating flies to evade capture had failed in the face of a new attitude of fatalistic nihilism, with some openly throwing themselves on webs rather than face dying of exhaustion after repeatedly bouncing off a window.
Inspector Barnside said that a recent attempt to form a partnership to deal with crane flies had led to open defiance, resulting in a plague of daddy long legs as well as spiders. ‘We have set up swat teams across the country and won’t rest till people can sleep in their beds without fearing some creepy crawly landing on their face in the night.’
But Ms Raven was unsure that such tactics would work, saying that sophisticated spiders were now coordinating their efforts using their own version of the world wide web, and that it had now escalated beyond a police matter to one of intelligence.