The Everyday Lore Project

28 May 2020 – Spiders

28 May 2020 – Spiders

Today I have very mixed feelings about what I did. In fact, I feel a little sick just thinking about it. I have spiders in my kitchen. Three of them. Three that I know of. Three sisters as they look pretty much the same. They are definite spiders. Not wishy washy ones. They have dense, rounded bodies the size of sultanas and thick, angular legs. And they weave to spite Minerva something terrible. And I am terrified of them. I am Team Ron. If I ever encountered a boggart, it would be a tarantula the size of a house. Just typing that made me shudder. 

I’ve had ‘spiders’ on my list of things to do for about three months. And it’s got to that stage now where when I unlatch a web-adjacent window, there’s a deep shredding sound and noticeable resistance as I open it. I try and brush the webs away but it’s just Sisyphean. Plus the Three Sisters are not shy. 

Enter the lovely, Hildegunn Traa. Yesterday she happened to mention she sprays known spider haunts with peppermint oil and water. Apparently, they are not partial to a bit of minty goodness. Peppermint or tea tree oil, she said. I made a note. After all, mint is supposed to keep away all sorts of critters, large or microscopic. And then this afternoon, having managed to open one of the windows, I felt a tickle and one of the Sisters was swinging off my arm. A scream followed and a cavort to rival a seagull dancing for worms. And then she was gone. I know not where. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon brushing myself down, shaking out my hair, and generally feeling very itchy all over. Something had to be done. I didn’t want them dead, least of all because the folklore says that’s dreadful bad luck (although it’s also said that nugget was perpetuated by housewives who couldn’t be arsed to sweep away cobwebs, something with which I can sympathise), I just wanted them gone. So I found some peppermint oil, tapped 20 drops into a small spray bottle full of water and went at it. 

And it worked. Folklore for the win! The webs were abandoned in seconds. And here’s what’s making me feel sick. I don’t know where they were abandoned for. I didn’t think this one through. So now I have three very angry, fresh smelling, homeless spiders on the loose. The good news is the myth that we all eat spiders in our sleep seems to be just that, a myth. But given my skin hasn’t stopped crawling since I sprayed, forgive me if I go to bed slathered head to toe in Vicks. 

Also had a major fangirl moment today when one of my Desert Island Disc picks tweeted me this:

Can someone pass me a fan…?


Hazlitt, W.C. (1995) The Dictionary of Faiths and Folklore, Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs, London, Bracken Books

Nozedar, A. (2012) The Hedgerow Handbook, Recipes, Remedies and Rituals, London, Square Peg

Simpson, J. and Roud, S. (2001) Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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