Monday, August 31, 2009
Funnel Web Spider in Spain
A few days ago before arriving here in Calpe, Spain we spent a night in Gandia on the coast (about an hour north of Calpe).
We'd parked our camper van on the side of a shady road, right next to a beautiful park. We thought we had struck our luck for 'free camping' as it was such a tranquil location.
By the time we found this location it was pushing on after 8pm, but the sun was still hot and the heat of the night had us sweltering. No air-conditioning in our camper so we left the windows wide open to allow the breeze to filter it's way in and cool our bodies, begging to breathe in cooler air.
Normally Max, Mike's 10 year old boxer dog, will sleep inside with us, curled up on his bed at the foot of the front passenger seat. Tonight was too hot for him to be inside (and us!), so Mike set up his bedding outside on the pavement next to the camper van (a practice he has done a few times when the temperature is high).
We had an uncomfortable night's sleep, tossing and turning, waking up sticky from the heat. Mike had been up an hour before me, and taken Max for a walk. Both now back, Max nestled back into his blanket and Mike is preparing to pack up a few things for our time to move forward to Calpe.
I'm inside the van, making a cuppa coffee and I hear Mike yell out to me in full Scottish accent, "Katie! Katie! Come here! Take a look at this!"
I lean out the window to witness Max standing transfixed and Mike using the dogs leash, poking at an ugly black hairy spider, on Max's rug.
"It was on the blanket next to Max! I thought it was a bit of fluff and about to pick it up! But look! It's a spider!"
The spider is now rearing back, aggressive and ready to attack. I see Mike's hand waving only inches above this spider, with just a short length of the leash brushing up to it.
"Mike, No! Get your hand away! That looks like a funnel web spider!"
I had no clue what type of spider it was. I was making this observation only on my knowledge of my home country's (Australia) most venomous spider (it will kill you with a bite!)
My skin crawled as Max was trying to get at it, and Mike was aggravating it.
"Get Max inside! Don't let him get at it! And step back from it yourself!"
With Max now inside, and me watching through the window (now with the flywire insitu) I watched as Mike flicked the rug towards the bushes. The spider went flying, landing on the pavement just before the hedge. It then scurried into the shrubs.
It was only this morning, discussing the memory, that we remembered to google the spider.
It is in fact an Andelucian Funnel Web Spider, closely related to the Sydney Funnel Web Spider.
It turns out it is the largest spider in Europe, and one of the few rare dangerous ones...
Phew! Max and Mike were protected on that one! ...AND, in Spain I will never sleep without the windows secured with at least the fly-mesh in place! I am now left imagining... "what if it had of made it's way into OUR bed? Or shoe? Or......."