In my opinion you are more likely to get bitten by a rabid reality TV contestant after your vote than you are by a false widow spider.
But the country has been gripped by a mass arachnophobia and, as far as the public is concerned, the little creature has taken on all the qualities of a serial killer on the loose.
What do spiders eat in Paris? French flies.
Let’s get this in perspective. These are the facts: It is not aggressive and there have been very few confirmed incidences of bites from the spider. It will only bite when it feels threatened.
There have been no reported deaths from its bite in the UK. Although a bite is very uncomfortable, it’s no stronger than a wasp sting, says Mark Champion from the Wildlife Trust. And you are more likely to die from a wasp or bee sting, he adds.
Why did the spider buy a computer? She wanted a website.
False widow spiders arrived in the country in the 19th Century. In fact, the very first sighting of a false widow was at Torquay in 1879 when, it is believed, it was brought over from The Canaries in a consignment of fruit.
So Devonshire people have lived quite happily side by side with Mr and Mrs False Widow for more than 130 years so I find it hard to believe that it has suddenly turned into a venomous stalker lurking in the woodshed waiting to pounce on innocent passers-by.
Such is the fear surrounding the spider that a school in the Forest of Dean was closed when some were spotted in a classroom. For goodness sake, it’s just a spider; it’s not Jack the Ripper, or even Michael Gove.
What did one spider say to another? “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”
It has been reported that a footballer who was recently bitten by a false widow in his sleep had to undergo surgery to cut away the area around the bite. Another man, it was said, was left fighting for his life after a bite on his foot.
But according to the experts this is purely scaremongering. Expert Dr Goodacre told the BBC that these reactions “are not consistent with the effect a neurotoxin – present in a false widow’s venom – would have.”
I must admit I have a bit of a soft spot for all spiders. I will pick up a little one in my hand to put it outside. I draw the line at the monsters, though, because I have a slight fear they will give me a nip. Even so, I won’t kill a spider if I can help it and will go to great lengths to rescue it with glass and cardboard.
Why did the fly fly? Because the spider spied ’er.
I will not react in panic to a spider unless, like in Australia, we suddenly have an influx of funnel webs lurking around our lavatories waiting to bite us on the bum. These spiders are genuinely dangerous causing breathing problems which can lead to a coma. I will not run screaming from a room until tarantulas the size of dinner plates are a common sight.
And if you want a scary-looking spider (although they are harmless to humans), how about the bird-eating tarantula which measures 12 inches across?
Still, I appreciate that some people have a real fear of spiders so I won’t tell you to “man up” but to read the Journal guide on page 25 on how to keep spiders from your home.
The advice includes some major work to keep spiders away, including removing all vegetation close to your house and sealing up gaps with caulk.
I liked the hint to put horse chestnuts in each corner of the room. I’ve been using this one to keep good-looking men away from my house.
It’s working very well....
So for my final joke:
Why did the spider cross the road? There was no spider. There was no road. The spider is a metaphorical manifestation of your pathological and subconscious fear. Fear of what you may ask? The chicken!