Seattleites, you have some ‘splaining to do. Why the fuck did no one warn me about these “Giant House Spiders” that are apparently so common in Seattle? Gaaaaarrahrahbbebabelle.

I’ve blogged about my arachnophobia before, but just in case it’s not clear: I am fucking terrified of spiders. Like, even ones that are a millimeter in diameter. I recognize that this is a totally irrational fear, but I can’t logic it away, so please spare me. Consider this an evolutionary adaptation.

So yeah. Finding two daddy long legs (which, I know, are not spiders, but are spider-y enough) was unnerving. Finding some decent sized spiders guarding my mail box was flail inducing, especially since I see them hanging out in bushes everywhere. But this?

This is unacceptable.

I am not going to show or even link to a photo of these horrible things, not because I don’t want to scare you, but because I am too terrified to even look at them on my computer screen. I turned around, ready to go to bed, and there’s this enormous spider on my wall. It was brown, hairy, and each leg was thick and almost two inches long (not a wolf spider though – unfortunately I have seen those in person). The only reason I was brave enough to squish it was because the idea of waking up and it not being there was even more terrifying. Someone should have been videotaping me as I ran around flailing, silently screaming, and eventually settling on squishing it with a mop because I couldn’t get any closer.

Hilarious for you. Not hilarious for me.

One of the more unnerving parts was how it died. I expected my wall to be covered in exploded spider guts. Instead, it sort of just crumpled into a little ball and fell off. The worst part? I found an identical looking dead crumpled spider yesterday, which means my landlord probably squished one of these before I came. Which means multiple giant house spiders within a short period of time.


If I had vodka, I’d be doing shots right now to calm my nerves. I feel like stuff is crawling all over me, and I was verging on a panic attack until I decided to blog my neurosis. Seriously, I am not going to be able to sleep tonight. I’m on an air mattress that’s about 3 inches off the ground. At least with a bed I can pretend I’m safe.

Please don’t point out how I’m not :(

Friend: They like cold, dry places like basements, not inside the house.I’ve NEVER seen one in my bed, EVER. If they’re EVER in the house, they like corners of rooms and bathroom tubs because they like really really cold, dry, dark spaces. I’m being as honest as I can here. I’m so sorry this sucks for you. Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?
Friend: …uh. Sorry.


Same Friend: My friend just told me that flea bombs work for spiders. And he says keeping a spotless place is the best defense
Me: Fuccccccckkkkkkk. I am a slob
Friend: Oh, hon.
Me: I will fucking clean if it means no giant ass spiders.
Friend: Yes! Good can come of this!


  1. Chabneruk says

    My girlfriend was afraid of spiders too, same symptoms.She went to an arachnophobia-therapy. With a friend, so she couldn’t back out. They let little spiders crawl all over her and at the end: A tarantula. And after that she was still a bit uneasy around them, but able to squish them with a shoe (and sleep well afterwards).In fact, she liked the tarantula better then the small ones (she also has biology courses ;). She said it had a pelt and was nice to touch. Maybe you should try too? Would also make a good blog post *g*

  2. Chabneruk says

    Aaand I forgot my favorite spider-killing method: Use a Vacuum. You don’t have to look for the crumpled ball afterwards – and they won’t come back, because in a vacuum they can’t… play… dead… Damn, I shouldn’t have mentioned that.

  3. says

    I saw tarantulas in the wild when doing my field work in Arizona, and oddly they didn’t freak me out as much. They just don’t have the same triggers for me – they’re more like little mammals. Plus when they move, they’re generally slow and deliberate. It’s the erratic, spindly spiders that freak me out.That being said, I’m masochistic enough to attend fundamentalist Christian anti-sex events, not arachnophobia therapy ;P

  4. LS says

    At work we’ve got this thing that looks like a tennis racket, but the racket part gets electrified, and you use it to swat bugs. Or employees.*ahem*Sorry about your spider experience, Jen. I don’t know what I can say that would be comforting, save for the fact that one can get used to them somewhat. I myself rarely actually see spiders in any of the places I’ve lived in WA, though when I lived in a basement, I frequently woke up with bites which I attributed to spiders. There are, of course, spider killing poisons and such, but I haven’t had much luck with them. And typically they are nastier than most bug killing traps.

  5. Roki_B says

    Learn to destroy them with extreme prejudice. shoes, newspaper, any object that isn’t your hand; stalk the spider for 10 seconds until you know its coordinates and then exact furious judgement upon it.I’ve done this as a kid and have always justified it as simply adding a selection pressure against arachnids living in my house.

  6. says

    I was a bit skeptical, but it was only $10 so I bought one of those plugin spider repellers, the kind that use ultrasonics locally and EM throughout the wiring of the house. Since then, spider sightings have gone from one a week (big badass ones like you describe) to one every 6 months. It may be coincidence, but empirical evidence is showing me they work.The downside is Im too scared to turn it off now {:-(

  7. says

    My apartment building is built on some sort of eldritch hive of those things, so we see TONS of them around here. Mostly in my room because I’m in the basement. >_<I found a can of what’s supposed to be some sort of spider repellant/pesticide that I regularly spray around my bedroom until the whole room reeks of poison and I can’t stay in there for a few hours. Not sure how well the stuff works as a repellant, but it’s usually enough to kill them after direct spraying without having to touch them. Usually.

  8. says

    I love killing spiders. It’s fun burning them.Get alcohol and a lighter. And when you see one, either catch it or lure it to a safe open space. Then, pour alcohol on it and burn it. ;-)

  9. K.W. Ramsey says

    Get a cat and train it to hunt and eat spiders. That way you get two benefits. No spiders and fluffy kitty!

  10. says

    I don’t like ’em much either, Jen. But about 30 years ago I was partially cured by working at a summer camp out in the boonies. You can imagine what that was like. What do they call that, bombardment therapy or something. At any rate, I was desensitized enough to put up with them and occasionally even sympathize — there was one in my bathtub last year (small-to-med. size) and it couldn’t get up the walls of the tub. I saw him late at night and he was still at it the next day mid-morning. I didn’t have the heart to wash him down the pipes after all that striving, so I put him in a paper cup and let him go outside. At least their webs are easy to get rid of to discourage them — at least they’re not like bedbugs that REALLY want to settle in and be your BFF…

  11. CyraEm says

    You actually came at the worst time of year for this. I live in Seattle and I can tell you that this is a fall phenomenon. They’re gonna be all up in your business until mid-november, and then they’ll die for a while. They do come back in late spring/early summer, but they stay outside and out of your way for the most part. It’s just getting close to that whole death season (winter) they start to get desperate for shelter.Just keep your doors and windows sealed, and try to lay down glue traps. Those help immensely. Also, once it does turn spring, get a bug zapper or a bug trap or something of the sort. You’ll need it. For the craneflies.

  12. Frank says

    Don’t come to Australia, then. We’ve not only got bloody big ones, but deadly ones as well. They scare the willies out of me.

  13. CyraEm says

    I want to look, but I know I’m going to scream and get itchy and start hyperventilating and then need to take a shower. Why do I want to look so badly?! Fuck you, curiosity.

  14. ICD F-something says

    I’m not going to link to pictures, but what most people call “daddy long-legs” are, indeed, spiders. What most people call “harvestmen” are not, and some people call those “daddy long-legs”, while others still call a group of insects “daddy long-legs”.You might be an arachnophobe, not an arachnidophobe!

  15. Mike J says

    Hey, Jen!I’ve been using the approach proposed by K.W.Ramsey for five years now and I have to say it’s been marvelous so far! Go to the local animal shelter and get yourself a cat. To avoid surprises, get an adult: for this type of utility work in crammed spaces you definitely want one of those slight, large eared, ADHD suffering models that never grow to be even 6 pounds. A little guy won’t net you as many new friends as a luxurious stunning longhair, but it will be your guardian assassin, precise and lethal against arachnid incursion. With precise being the key word. There are very active large cats too, but a big cat in pursuit will always nudge and mess up/destroy your stuff, which gets really tiresome after a year or two.The only difficulty I have noticed with a feline housekeeper is that if there are any insects that you actually like, you have to actively rescue them :). I got this problem with beetles and also with spiders that helpfully settle on the other side of my window.Besides, rescuing an animal allows you to Take 20 on This Month’s Awesomeness Roll, which will brilliantly offset any negative feelings induced by your new colleagues.-Mike J.

  16. says

    I have some kittens if you want to go this route. I need them out of the house.I wonder if it’s legal and how much it costs to fedex a cat from ontario to washinton?

  17. says

    Look on the bright side: I once read that a person, on average, will eat 13 spiders in their sleep during their lifetime. Chances are you’ve already eaten a few without even knowing it.I guess the “bright side” is that nothing bad has happened … yet.

  18. says

    My sister married a cane farmer (sugar cane, that is). I was at their place one day and went take a wizz. Flipped up the lid of the toilet and there was a spider in there the size of a dinner plate trying to crawl it’s way out. I ran out the back door screaming like a girl with everything hanging out!

  19. Ryanlangford says

    I’ve never lived outside of WA, so I’m not sure how the spider thing works in other states. However, whether you’re talking eastern WA or western WA, the spider thing is pretty similar, even though the climates are quite a bit different. Granted, in eastern WA you have to deal with a lot more black widows, scorpions, etc.The spiders in western WA are mostly harmless. They are also situational. I have lived in a lot of houses, most don’t have a spider problem. I’m not sure what attracts them to some houses, but in my experience, the vast majority don’t have any noteworthy spider infesting.IMO, eastern WA is way worse as far as big scary spiders go.

  20. says

    I live in an old house, so I have an occasional spider problem too. I use Ortho Home Defense MAX Perimeter spray. Spray it around the outside of all the doors and windows, and it should keep them out. I even use it inside because when it drys, it really is odorless. Haven’t seen a spider in months.

  21. says

    Hey friend i like the vacuum idea best!.. sorry for you phobia but at least you had something funny to blog about and i’ll bet it got a lot of laughter and they say laughter is the best medicine..Good luck with that problem and i wish you well hon’ Just don’t go finding a big 45 caliber gun and shooting them because you could hit on in the ceiling of your basement apartment fly through and hit the landlord in the kitchen and that would not be funny!

  22. Valis says

    Wow, that is awesome! I’m so glad to see at least one rational comment on here. You should never ever kill spiders, they are amazing creatures. They’re good for the environment and keep vermin down. I can’t believe people’s knee-jerk reactions, *sigh*.

  23. Lora says

    I share your extreme fear of spiders. I do suggest the vacuum method if you can find a cheap one, but I also take multiple lines of defense. I have sprayed around both of my doors with anti-spider spray, I have a few sticky traps placed behind furniture and behind the toilet, and I try to not leave my clothes on the floor (not 100% foolproof, but I figure something is less likely to get in there while hanging up). I knew someone who also lived in a basement and not only did she have huge spiders for company, but also fun things like centipedes. They also appeared to have a particular fondness for the shower, so after a few times where she noticed one mid-shower and freaked out she started doing a pre-shower spider/centipede check. Yeah you couldn’t pay me to live in a basement basically. Good luck with that :)

  24. NotThatGreg says

    Umm, Carrie, is that just a random “don’t do this” … like “don’t go after them with a chainsaw because it upsets the neighbors, and you can lose your damage deposit, and the fumes take a long time to go away” … or do you have experience with the 45?

  25. Julie says

    I find that a wine glass works very well for me. I put it over them, they crawl up, then I slip my hand under it and let them go outside. I like most spiders, particularly Phidippus audax, I love their green fangs! Some of them trigger my “eeeyugh!” response, but I make myself fight through it so I can get them outside.

  26. Gwenny says

    I wish you could sent them to us, we love spiders. There’s one that lives in the corner over my desk. And a big orb weaver out on the deck. When the kids were small and we lived in the South, we had three or four wolf spiders that lived in our house. We had names for them. They were huge and hairy and entertained us by chasing down beetles that came in under the screen door at night. I remember once when Houdini the Hamster had escaped again, I was sitting on the couch and saw him running down the edge of the room right toward Herman the Spider’s favorite hiding place. As he got within range of Herman, the spider jumped out at the hamster. I swear to you, Houdini leapt into the air and did a 180 and ran the other way at the same time Herman, realizing this was not a shiny beetle, did exactly the same thing. It was awesome. We were very sad when Herman died. Buried him in a matchbox lined with cotton. /sad face

  27. NotThatGreg says

    Get a web-controlled minibot with some kind of anti-spider artillery, and us faithful blog fans can take turns keeping down arachnid population while you are out, or while you are in for that manner. We’ll try not to mess up your stuff. Ads on the SpiderKillBotCam page will probably more than pay for it. You’ll want to get earplugs for sleeping (and, depending on the type of munition, maybe one of those eye masks).So, did you actually get any sleep? My sweetie has a similar terrible fear of spiders, I sympathize…

  28. NotThatGreg says

    Giant spider?? There’s a monk out back with a LADDER!!! thanks folks.. I’m here all week … try the veal.

  29. splodie says

    I live in Texas – which is a really really really really really bad place to live if you have a problem with giant cockroaches. I do.The main purpose for getting married here is to have someone you can scream for while you’re standing on a chair jumping up and down freaking out over the giant bug running across the floor/on the counter/up the wall/on your bed. The really fun part is that they run. Quickly. And some fly.

  30. Karen says

    I’m originally from southern Vancouver Island, so I know the spiders you speak of. They are completely harmless, but they look like prehistoric monster who would like nothing better than to eat you in your sleep. I’m not exactly an arachnophobe, but I have an uneasy relationship with eight-legged critters that goes back to a sleepover at a friend’s house when I was 13, and one crawled out of my sleeping bag WHILE I WAS STILL IN IT. I live in Toronto now and the spiders here are generally of the small daddy-long-leg variety, which I can live with. Unfortunately, Toronto has centepedes >_<

  31. says

    I have a friend like this who once went so far as to use his girlfriend as a human shield to get through a door past a spider in what turned out to be a hilarious story afterward.I’m generally okay with spiders, but if they get on me or inside the house then they die because I just don’t want them there.Also, probably the closest I’ve come to a bad experience was picking up a brick that had a black widow guarding an egg sac on it. Before she had a chance to move I dropped the brick on the eggs, probably killing both of them. Evidently when it comes to little black things with red hourglass things on ’em, I have lightning-fast reflexes.Also, if the spiders like dry places, maybe you should get a humidifier.

  32. KaeN says

    Seriously, to keep spiders out of the house do the following:Go to the hardware store. Get sticky-back mouse traps or fly paper and adhesive (or regular screw-on) draft excluder/ dust excluder strips for doors. Go home and clean the hell out of your apartment. Install the excluder strips (they look like tightly-packed grass skirts for door bottoms), put out the sticky traps and hang fly tape. Check the traps/tape every couple days and throw them out. Spiders eat flies, so make sure your screens haven’t any holes and put up flypaper to catch any. The draft excluders will keep insects from easily getting into your apartment and the sticky traps stop the buggers in their tracks and can be swept up with minimum arachnid interaction and thrown away. Find any draughty areas and seal them with silica caulk. Keep the kitchen clean.The best way to limit (if not eliminate) bugs is to keep their food away from your dwelling and prevent access. Do the above things and this will minimize the creepy crawlies. Get a cat because you want one, as their appetities vary (mine will eat moths to their hearts’ content, but will only chase spiders, not kill them). You may also want to check out some of the herbal/natural remedies for keeping insects at bay. Citronella oil is effective, and there are probably others that also work. Some plants have repellent properties and provide nice oxygenated air, as well. Good luck!

  33. Vanessa Voj says

    I bug bomb my house every summer, when the bugs start getting brave enough to be seen in the upstairs as well as the basement. It keeps them at bay for the rest of the season. All you have to do is leave your house for 4 hours while the bomb goes off, and then wipe the counters and kitchen table and stuff when it’s finished. You can buy these at hardware stores. They’ll be near the cans of Raid.

  34. Elizabeth says

    … *cries uncontrollably*I used to be horribly arachnophobic. I refused to walk around at night because I was afraid that there were spiders in the shadows. I’m less scared now (I can squish them!), but the idea of giant spiders… it’s their eyes. I can’t take their eyes.The cat route is probably a good idea if you’re not allergic. There aren’t very many spiders in my house because my cat kills most of them, and even if I end up running into the odd survivor, bringing the kitty into the room will solve that problem.I feel bad for killing them, but I just don’t know what else to do. If I know they’re alive, I can’t sleep at night. :(

  35. says

    well at time i wrote the comment is was just a random thought that hit my head as i was writing.. random thoughts can be scary. When i wrote that i just just simply imagined a pissed of B*tch grabbing the .45 and shooting a spider off the wall. and figured just add that to the post. then I thought “uh oh she lives in basement and might miss” that even made laugh more.Can you imagine the headlines:”Famous Boobqake Blogger Shoots Her Landlord By ACCIDENT!

  36. Incidence says

    In addition to all of the suggestions above, you might want to look into a pest service like Orkin. Your trading money for convenience on this one. My place is some kind of ancestral battleground between ants and spiders, combined with a messy roommate and my arachnophobia it was really bad for a while. We ended up splitting the cost between all the housemates so the cost per person wasn’t that bad and we don’t have to do anything. Once a month the Orkin guy comes round and uses some kind of citrus/ nontoxic spray stuff and it was like magic, no ants and no spiders anywhere inside anymore. It isn’t as cute as a cat but there is a lot less daily feeding and poop scooping.

  37. CP says

    I presume that glass method (I’m using it sometimes, too) is too hardcore for Jen. ;-) Kevin’s idea sounds great, though.

  38. Goldarn says

    I recommend central vacuum systems, because the spider ends up in the garage. My wife still thinks I’m a wimp, though.

  39. says

    Haha, I know man. People here LOVE talking about the huge slugs and the rain, but no one mentions the spiders. I used to be afraid of them, but I’ve grown up here so I’m used to them now. I’m sorry, man! The spider vacuum is the best idea, I think.

  40. Goldarn says

    We use a exterminator. We had ants, spiders, and mice in the house, and now we rarely see them.Also we have a cat, and he’s good, but he doesn’t get the spiders up high on the 2-story walls. So I know the exterminator works.

  41. says

    I’m friends with the little jumping spiders that live in my apartment. And the rest of them, as long as they keep their webs out of my way, all is well. Of course, I used to feed Black Widow’s in California, so…yeah.

  42. Linda W says

    Jen, we MUST see this spider to be commune with you!!!! I too am terrified of them. I did go to school in Seattle, however, and giant spider was not really a Seattle thing. This time of year, they come in trying to hole up for the winter. Show us the picture and we will do research.

  43. says

    It might be easier to treat the phobia than the spiders… daddy longlegs are, as far as vermin go, the most preferable as they can’t actually harm you , and keep away other spiders and insects.

  44. says

    It’s not cruel. Let’s not apply human rights to animals. There is nothing wrong to have fun experimenting animals like what we do in a biology lab.Spiders are invaders to my properties. Burning them and having fun with it is just a way to punish the invaders.For large spiders, though, I might not burn them because I heard that large spiders are delicious and taste like crabs if they are properly cooked.

  45. says

    I’m not afraid of spiders but I still don’t like finding them in unexpected places. I used to live in Australia and I spent my whole time there terrified I’d wake up to a Huntsman (as big as your hand) on my wall by my bed. I did see one, but in my living room. I didn’t kill it for fear of guts and also cus they eat the poisonous spiders. I live in a basement now and I’ve found 2 earwigs IN my bed. I just about died.

  46. Seeko says

    I use Hot Shot Natural Ant & Roach Killer. It costs less than $5 and uses lemongrass. I spray the baseboards of my kitchen, but also spray it directly on spiders. It can have an overwhelmingly lemon smell, but it isn’t toxic to children or animals, so you don’t have to leave for hours while it sets. I buy it at Lowe’s and there are several other related products.

  47. JJ says

    Just wanted to point out I don’t find it hilarious. Neither do the 20% of people with phobias, the 10% with various anxiety disorders or the 99% with any kind of empathy.

  48. Reed says

    Oh dear. As a fellow Northwest’er (welcome to the region, BTW!), let me assure you, spiders are… everywhere.In Oregon, I’ve never seen the BIG ones… but the little ones basically own the place. Sorta like the roaches did in Houston (my previous residence).HUGE sympathies, and sadly, no good suggestions. (Though I like the cat idea.)Hope I get to meet you at a local conference someday!

  49. cowtown says

    Giant House Spiders are Tegenaria duellica; Hobo Spiders are Tegenaria agrestis (Aggressive House Spider)

  50. cowtown says

    Just wait until Spring, when the males come indoors and scurry around on the floor looking for mates.

  51. says

    hey. Being someone who is terrified of mice & slugs, and super claustrophobic I understand the irrational terror thing. I do offer you this though, spiders eat other bugs. Which outweighs their creepiness by their ability to do away with more creepiness. I’m with Valis on this one, you really shouldn’t kill spiders. Big jar over the guy and slide paper under? Then you can dump him out the window. And to the sicko who enjoys torturing spiders, that just reeks of sociopathic behavior.

  52. SarahW says

    I am severely afraid of bugs and spiders. My mom got me this bug trapper from Lee Valley. It has changed my life. I can’t get near enough to squish them with a shoe or anything, but this thing traps them and allows me to get them to a place far from me (outside for spiders, into the toilet for house centipedes, which are far more terrifying). It’s cheap, it’s easy and it keeps me from having a heart attack every time something pops up,

  53. nobody says

    I used to be mortally afraid of spiders, but it passed. My grad school apartment had this tiny little balcony that got massive black widow infestations. I used to go on killing sprees and net 30 in a day during breeding season. I finally got bit and you know what? It wasn’t that bad. It was just like having the flu for a few days and now I have a cool story to tell. I figure if a black widow isn’t so bad, anything less is shrug-worthy. I’m still scared shitless of brown recluses ’cause they do real damage, but I’ve never lived in parts of the country where they go. A few months in a spider infested apartment and you’ll likely have nothing to say about spiders but ‘meh.’

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