Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

If  you’re arachnophobic, best to back out slowly now…

If, on the other hand, you thought I might have stuffed a toff along with a gun, his horse and beagle into my worm farm, then no,  that’s not quite the case.

I was, in fact happily feeding my worms yesterday, spreading around vege scraps and making sure that the worms were cosily blanketed under their towel when something caught my eye.

A huntsman.

A big hairy spider.

A big hairy spider…that looks to be an expectant mother of 200 odd babies.

In my worm farm. Making her home.

Yes I am a sook when it comes to spiders, an antipodean arachnophobe. I know it is not the tropics here (where spiders come in  the size of small cars) but this is still not the place to live if spiders make you queasy. And spiders do make me queasy. Especially ones that can easily be as big as your hand.

Wikimedia Commons image by Bryce McQuillan of a female Hunstman. This one is Delena cancerides, the Social Huntsman.

I am writing this post because I am going to try to live with Henrietta Huntsman. No, not literally, but I am going to try to make my peace with the fact that she is a good bug, not a bad bug. She will keep my worm farm fly free. She will not look for trouble. She will sit in her little corner waiting for the big day. When the big day comes and I open the worm farm…I will run away screaming hysterically. But then I will pick myself up, telll myself that this is all part of nature’s miracle and calmly find a way to live with 200 little huntsmen in my worm farm.

I don’t think they eat worms.

For those interested in the life and times of these hairy minibeasts, huntsmen are found in many countries other than Australia, but you can read more about our particular varieties here, I think Henrietta is Holconia montana. The Museum Victoria site I’ve linked to calmly notes that they “…occassionally enter vehicles, causing much alarm”.

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Comments on: "There’s a Huntsman in my Worm Farm :(" (22)

  1. Seriously?! I hear ya on the ‘uncertainty’ aspect:-) It would have truly freaked me out. But like you, I could live with it if I knew it wasn’t going to hurt me or anything else (except the unwanted bugs, etc)! I liked your post as it was both informative and definitely attention-grabbing! Good luck with your nursery;-)

    • Thanks Jan. We were thinking of decorating the nursery, but she seems quite happy with camouflage brown and black 😀 I am certainly happier that she has chosen the worm farm rather than our bedroom for her home!

  2. That’s pretty horrifying O_O

    You’re a braver person than I. That one would have to go. Scratch Australia off the list of places I want to live….O_O

  3. *talks to self in a quiet and soothing voice*

    penguins… penguins… penguins … they do have penguins as well as giant spiders down there … penguins ….

    See! I’m not yet giving up on my visiting plans! 😀

    I’m not an arachnophobe, and I find spiders quite amazing, but I hate to run into the larger specimens unexpectedly (although you would just laugh at what I call a ‘larger specimen’)

    Oh, and will you have a baby shower for the expectant mother? 😉

    • Yes, lots of lovely penguins!
      But not, as it happens, in my back yard 😀

      Don’t forget we have cute and furry possums, koalas, wallabies and…ok, yes…furry spiders who I’m sure someone out there finds cute.

      I’m not so sure about the baby shower…what do you give a mother who is expecting 200?

      Oh, and thanks for the suggestion of adding sage to the herb garden…I’ll put it on my list!

  4. Thank you,Heidi. While I am not crazy about spiders, I know they have a place in the ecosystem. In fact I have been known to remove them gently from the house so they can safely land in the garden (and not my shower!).

    I remember someone I met long ago whose cry was Save the Spider. It made me conscious that all creatures great and small have a purpose.

    • Hi Lesley, your shower story reminds me of the time when I jumped in the shower and closed the door behind me (it was one of those three panes of glass models popular in the 70s) only to discover that there was a huntsman on the middle panel. It took all my will power to slowly open the door again!

  5. I’ve tried for years to psych myself into liking spiders – every time I see one I think “eats flies, eats mosquitos”. But if you don’t think they eat worms, they probably don’t care for slugs either, darn. Fun post.

    • It is a shame that they don’t like slugs. I’ve a couple that have found their way into the worm farm. I’d be happier if Henrietta ate them than left it to me to pick them out for the ducks!

  6. Spiders are our friends. At least that’s what I told our daughters when they were little. jim

  7. Hi Heidi: We like spiders, they do more good than harm. Thanks for sharing I am going to check out my worm farm.

    Have a wonderful day,
    John

  8. Hello John, you are of course right. I just have to over-ride my ‘flight’ (certainly not fight) reaction when I get close to one! I’d be interested to hear if your worm farm has a resident caretaker too!

    • Heidi: Checked out the worm farm no spiders. However the compost bins and composting area is loaded with them.
      Guess they are having gourmet dining, all kinds of creatures caught in the webs.

      Have a great day,
      John

      • Hi again John, so far it’s just the little spiders in my compost bin…but I’m sure it is just a matter of time before a huntsman works out that there is good food to be had there! Thanks for updating me, it’s great to share news of the minibeasts across the miles 🙂

  9. Dear Heidi, Because of your warning in the first sentence, I nearly didn’t read this post. I’m glad I did read on, and read the comments, because I feel better knowing I am not the only one who is freaked out by big spiders… I can usually tolerate really small ones. I admire your bravery. Pam x

    • Hi Pam, you know, I just about scare myself when I come back to this post. I have to tell myself that it good threapy to get used to the sight of the spiders 😀
      I hope you don’t get too many big spiders in your garden!

  10. Oh my, I was about to commend you for being very brave, as I thought that was your hand with Henrietta on it. I’m not a full-on arachnaphobe, but I do give some of our larger spiders here a wide berth. That said, I think you’ll find Henrietta to be a valuable garden ally. I wonder when the big day will be? 🙂

    • Hi Clare,
      No. I have to admit that I am a loooooong way from willingly picking up a huntsman. In fact, you should see the creative dance I do when I so much as imagine that one has touched me 😀
      I think Henrietta and I will be just fine as long as we each know where the other one is and don’t have to make contact!

  11. There’s no way. No way I could even be in the garden bed with a spider that big. Let alone opening something and not knowing where it is every minute of the time I’m out there.
    I was looking forward to going to the farm this weekend but then remembered after reading this post we’ve had a spate of warm weather and J’s words are echoing in my head now ‘just you wait til spring, huntsman’s everywhere!’ Arrrgh! And he is overseas for three weeks! Arrrgh!

  12. OMG . . . When seeing the photo I first thought that was you holding the spider! Yikes I am with you about having to face up that spiders are a good part of nature but oh, they do give me the creeps too. ;>)

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