“A lot of animals are doing exactly what we’re doing, trying to avoid therather inhospitable conditions at the moment. Animals take shelter in the sameway that we do, or in the case of some animals like funnel web spiders , itcould be because their burrows are getting flooded.
“It’s also that time of year when nature really starts to get going. Theincrease in temperature combined with the rainfall we’re getting are signalsto a lot of animals to emerge from their winter hiatus and get their lives upand running again. It’s a really critical time for breeding.”
Which creatures are we likely to see?
“You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘It’s great weather for ducks’. But when itcomes to wet conditions it’s also great weather for slugs and snails. Theseanimals are particularly sensitive to drying out, so rainy weather is idealfor them to get out and forage, and even hook up with each other.
“We’re also likely to enter mosquito season pretty soon. The ecology of theseanimals is strongly tied to climatic conditions, so water and warmertemperatures are ideal for them. We will start to see them in our homes as thefemales look for the blood meal they need to develop their eggs.
“There are also some well-founded concerns that you are likely to encounterfunnel web spiders, particularly in certain parts of Sydney. Males regularlycome into our homes searching for a female. Their intentions aren’t reallynefarious.
“This is the time of year when the animal and plant worlds start to become abigger part of our lives. For some this means air allergies playing up, ornuisance animals making their presence felt but it also means that animalsthat spark joy start turning up nesting in our garden, or pollinating ourplants.
“It’s a great time to be a biologist and it’s not surprising that some ofthese animals and plants make their way into our homes.”
How do we humanely remove them?
**** “My first advice would be to try to live with them. Most spiders, slugsand snails are part of our wonderful urban ecosystem and pose no threat tolife, liberty or happiness.
**** “If you really don’t want them around you can squish them or do somethingrelatively quick. Snails, slugs, mozzies and spiders live in a prettychallenging world and sudden death is a pretty normal part of their lives.
“But I would recommend a ‘live and let live’ policy. For instance, nearlyevery spider you encounter is absolutely no danger or threat to humans, andeven for those that are dangerous like the funnel-web the risk is vanishinglysmall. No one has died from a funnel-web bite since the early 1980s because ofthe development of the anti-venom. That’s not to say you wouldn’t want toremove them but if you do, consider catching them in a container and sendingit to the Australian Reptile Park so the venom can be extracted.
**** “I’d also strongly recommend not using most of the everyday pesticidesavailable to you. There is increasing evidence that this just leads to uskilling beneficial insects as well as introducing unnecessary chemicals intoour home. One of the best things you can do is learn what critters you’resharing your home with and work out ways to only manage the problems that aregenuine.”
_Image: A leopard slug, commonly found in homes during rainy seasons
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