THE onset of autumn is always a nightmare time for arachnophobes across Wigan.
Many find themselves shamelessly cowering behind the armchair when a large eight-legged beastie shoots across the carpet looking for a mate.
But the borough’s force of nature Graham Workman is at pains to point out that the common house spider (Tegenaria Domestica) and its giant house spider cousin, for that matter, are living alongside us, inside our homes, all year round.
They are only making their hairy-legged presence felt now as they venture out of the shadows under the sofa because they are hunting for a mate during the spider-breeding season.
And Mr Workman wants those ready to grab an old boot to despatch the creature to silken web heaven to think again.
Because house spiders, unseen, do “loads and loads of domestic good” for most of the year.
Thanks to our mild summer and a preponderance of fly and bug food, giant house spiders have feasted well and are likely to be even bigger, fatter and more vigorous as they scamper across the linoleum in search of a partner.
Some are said to be double the size of leaner years.
But however huge, remember, they are completely harmless and have no bite or sting.
Wigan leisure and Culture Trust’s Mr Workman urged householders to trap the offender in a pint glass or similar and dump him outside, alive, if their can’t bear to live alongside it.
The bio-diversity manager said: “It is the time of the year for mating and what you are seeing is males racing across the carpet in search of some loving.
“Its the spidery version of King Street on a Saturday night!
“They can do you no harm and in fact do a lot of good by taking all the little bugs through out the year that you can’t see that live in the carpet such as silverfish, small flies and, incidentally, other spiders.
“Some residents aren’t going to agree with me, I know, but they are a good friend to have in the house.
“They are with us in our homes all year but only really become visible now they are scouting for a female.
“The males lose part of the stomach so that they can’t feed again so they will die, but they grow sexual organs instead.”
Domestic house spiders have now found homes from as far north as Sweden to as far south as Greece.
Males are usually distinguished from females by having longer, more agile legs.
Their eye configuration, with six out of eight sighting forward, allows them to distinguish even the smallest movement in front of them and either follow it or retreat.
SEE THE WIGAN EVENING POST (THURSDAY) FOR OUR TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING THE CRITTERS OUT OF YOUR HOME ...