To anyone who is a Facebook friend of mine, forgive me right now because you have already lived through most of this saga. To anyone who, like me, has severe arachnophobia, you might want to skip reading this post – particularly if you live in Dubai. For anyone that’s left, feel free to continue…
Some of you may recall my earlier post on the various fauna we attract in these parts. Well, guess what folks, we finally got our camel spider close-up. Of course it happened while my husband was away, because my encounters with nature always do, and it happened first thing in the morning, because these sorts of things can’t wait until after I’ve drunk my tea.
Fortunately our inquisitive and slightly annoying cat alerted me to the issue by sniffing around under the dining table as my son and I ate our breakfast. I glanced down to see what she was swiping at, assuming it was some poor lizard that had somehow found its way in to our hermetically sealed house, and my stomach lurched horribly as I saw a pale brown coloured leg the size of a teaspoon handle sticking out right by my feet. I whipped my son mid-mouthful out of his chair and flew to the other end of the kitchen, frantically trying to find the Pif Paf on the shelf whilst clutching my son and determinedly not taking my eyes off ‘the prize’. Which by now had come out to show itself in full five inch diameter glory. Well, even the cat backed off at that point. I had no clue what I thought I would do with the Pif Paf even if I found it and a thousand thoughts filled my head at once as I a)plotted our escape from the house, never to return, b)wondered if I was scarring my son for life by letting him see me scared shitless and for letting him see what it was that was scaring me, c)debated whether I could ever get near enough to spray the insect killer in any case, d)tried not to throw up and e)cursed my husband for being away whilst I do battle with my version of hell.
Fortunately, right by the Pif Paf was the door to our maid’s room. Despite the early hour (she doesn’t start until after breakfast in the normal run of things) I tapped on her door, cried her name in a somewhat shaky voice, and when she opened up, pointed at the dining table and croaked ‘insect killer’.
Thankfully, there is only one thing that moves faster than a camel spider, and that is our maid. She whipped out the can, a dustpan and the broom and went straight in for the kill. It took three rounds of spray before the thing was finally stunned enough (and crunched up enough) for her to scoop it up in the pan and get it out of the house. Then we heard a lot of banging, followed by her coming back in and announcing “Dead, madam, in the bin” and giggling at the quivering mess that used to be me.
After I had tried to restore a slight sense of normality and joviality into the morning (toast in the playroom anyone, so that we don’t poison ourselves with the smell of bug killer?), I got a description from our maid who had clearly got a lot closer than I had – and immediately called my Aussie friend to get confirmation of its identification (as I have previously noted, it’s always good to have an Australian on hand in these sorts of crises – they don’t get fazed easily and know by heart what can kill you). Identification confirmed, I then concentrated really, really hard on not throwing up for the best part of an hour. I spent all day avoiding putting my feet on the floor when sitting and totally freaked when I trod on some water that had dripped onto the floor from my glass.
The thing is, as anyone here will tell you, camel spiders are not venomous. And therefore, as anyone who clearly has never actually encountered one of these things will tell you, there’s no need to make a fuss. Well I tell you what, I defy anyone not to have been just a tiny bit scared by this thing. I have since discovered our maid is somewhat of an expert in the art of spider killing (although thankfully not all of them in our house), but I have no doubt the giggling was as much of a nervous response as it was hilarity at my green face and shaking hands. And, as anyone who is terrified of the average UK house spider will tell you, there is no point in saying camel spiders are ‘harmless’. For starters, they aren’t harmless. They are massive, fast, and they bite, and if you want to hang around to see what kind of bite you get from a pissed off five inch arachnid then be my guest. I personally didn’t feel the need, just to get a photo and pretend to be all kick-ass about the whole thing. It was absolutely the scariest thing that has ever happened to me in my own house and honestly I’d rather have to deal with a lion popping in for lunch than ever see one of these things ever again.
Pest control have been and gone. We vacated the house for the night and they sprayed inside and out, and all around. Nothing lives and the horror is over. I have elected not to concern myself with how it arrived in our house in the first place. We live in the desert, even though we might forget it from time to time, and it could have got in any number of different ways. What remains to be seen is the effect it, and I, have had on our son. Last night he woke screaming about spiders in the bed, it took 20 minutes for me to coax him back in and I had to stay with him until the morning. We live in hope that the nightmare is a one-off and he will sleep more soundly tonight. But as he has been talking about it all day, on and off, I don’t hold out much hope. I blame myself because there is no doubt he heard me talking about it, on the phone, at lunch, with the maid. And I was probably too honest in telling him why ‘the men’ were coming to spray the house. But on the other hand, I am still thinking about what I saw too, and can’t get it off my mind. So I just hope the memory fades for both of us over time and have to accept the consequences of being marginally less than grown up in my reaction.
As a long-time sufferer, it took arachnophobia to a whole new level I didn’t dream of and it has not inspired me to ‘man up’ next time, merely to get on the fastest plane out of here. I can only fervently hope that we never, ever, ever see one again.