CCTV and Spiders

Spiders and their webs are a nuisance, most outsiders are unaware of, but nonetheless remain one that customers have to deal with. Spiders, attracted to the heat from cameras’ infrared illuminators and the light often mounted near cameras, come and spin their webs and obstruct the view and cause false alarms.

Below are a few spider facts

Arachnophobes turn away now

Are British ones poisonous?

Surprisingly, all spiders in Britain are venomous — it’s the way they disable and digest their prey. But most of them are harmless to us. ‘Small spiders have fangs, but they can’t penetrate human skin,’ says Mark Bushell, assistant curator of invertebrates at Bristol zoo. ‘Only 14 species out of around 600 in Britain are reported to be able to bite people, and most spider bites are no worse than a bee sting. ‘House spiders can give a nip if they feel threatened, but it feels like being pricked by a thorn.’ Two species vie for the most venomous: the Walnut orb weaver, (see right) and a type of false widow, steatoda nobilis. Their human victims describe burning sensations, local pain and swelling, often followed by pulsating pain and sickness.

Why are we so terrified of them?

Is it something we are born with or that we learn?

‘I am 100 per cent in the nurture camp,’ says Dr John Tweddle, arachnid expert at the natural history museum.

‘Children of phobic parents will be brought up with a general uncertainty of spiders and possibly go on to develop a full-blown phobia. ‘Even the momentary sharp intake of breath from a parent when an infant approaches a spider is enough to engender a fear.’

How do they get into our homes?

According to Craig Walker, who works with arachnids in the bug department of London zoo, some spiders live in our houses all the time. It’s just that we are more likely to spot them when they grow bigger and when the males wander around looking for a mate (which is why they come into our homes at this time of year). New arrivals looking for shelter can crawl through an open window or door without us noticing, or even be brought in on our coats or shopping.

Do they just eat flies?

No, they’re not picky, spiders will eat whatever small invertebrates come their way, including all types of insect and even other spiders. Without them we’d be over-run with bugs.

The fen raft spider, an endangered creature that lives in marshy areas, has even been known to gobble tadpoles or the odd small frog, according to Mark Bushell.

If you get rid of the web, will the spider leave?

No. Craig Walker says many spiders spin webs daily, so they will be relatively unperturbed by your feather duster. ‘most webs that we dust away come to our attention only when they are old and dust has built up on them,’ he says. ‘the spider is probably long gone to another one by then.’

Surprisingly, only half of spiders spin webs. The fearful-sounding wolf spider runs after insects, jumping spiders hop after them and spitting spiders launch sticky venom at them. And yes, all of these could find their way into your home.

Is it true they don’t like conkers?

There’s an old wives’ tale that conkers left on window sills and near doors will stop spiders sneaking into your house. But sadly, it’s never been proven.

‘Conkers is a bit bonkers,’ says Stuart Hine of the natural history museum

What’s the biggest spider ever found in britain?

The largest domestic spider officially measured a whopping five inches across, including the legs.

It was a cardinal spider or tegenaria parietina, which was apparently named after henry viii’s ill-fated adviser cardinal wolsey after he got a nasty nip from one. You’ve probably seen one in your house — all legs and hairy knees, but quite a small body. They regularly span three or four inches.

How many babies do they have?

Big house spiders lay between 40 and 50 eggs, according to mark bushell. But false widows lay 100 to 120 and garden spiders can lay up to 200. This usually happens once a year, but can be more often if the food supply is good.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll have hundreds of spiders running around your home.

‘Out of 200, usually only two or three make it to adulthood — other spiders, wasps, birds and pets are all dangers that baby spiders face,’ he says.

And even then, they’ll just live to between two and four years old.

Why do they end up in the bath?

Contrary to popular belief, they accidentally fall in rather than climb up the spout.

‘it’s almost always an adult male who is wandering around looking for a mate,’ says Craig Walker. ‘as baths are typically enamel, they have difficulty climbing back up the smooth surface because they have nothing to grip.’

Do we swallow them in our sleep?

The short answer is: very unlikely. As Craig Walker puts it:

The last thing a spider wants to do is to be eaten by another animal. So why on earth would it wander into the mouth of a large, living one?

‘the vibrations from our breathing or snoring would be like an earthquake to a spider.

‘getting into our mouth would be the spider equivalent of jumping in front of a train.’