Jul 12, 2011

What I hate most about Japan.... Spiders

It's official. I simply hate the 梅雨 (tsuyu) season and mostly.. the spiders that comes with it.

As a tropical gal, I know how to coexist with bug life throughout the year, since we have summer all year long. Or so I thought.

I was so wrong. Wait till you get to the rainy season in Japan, also known as tsuyu in Japanese. The bugs are ever so energetic in this season.

Probably because they missed out on winter, and maybe spring and autumn, so they are bent on making the most out of summer. I do not have any bug problems in my apartment in the other 3 seasons.

And with bugs, comes spiders. And they are HUGE! The smallest I have seen so far is probably 5cm in diameter.

I have never seen any spiders more than a diameter of 2cm in Singapore, so imagine my shock when I first saw a huntsman spider, the infamous gigantic, yet common spider in Japan. That was last summer, when I first arrived, I met the mother and child pair outside my neighbor's apartment.

But they were outside the house. As long as they were outside the house, I can coexist with them. I thought.

The next time I met a huge spider was recently- a 6cm diameter spider in my living room. Totally unprepared, I spent about 10 minutes staring at it.

It eventually escaped. They move so fast! Which is actually not surprising since I think they have more than a pair of eyes on their body. They can probably watch me with a 360 degrees surround view.

I panicked, and of course started to research, started to ask my Japanese colleagues, ask my neighbors, etc how they deal with their spider problems. My American neighbors were as freaked out as me, too, since they have spotted two in their bedroom too, and were too looking for solutions. We all have tried crowdsourcing for solutions, by tapping on our seniors' expertise over the very popular social network, facebook. Spiders are just tricky fellows, they are faster than our sprays or slippers.

The Japanese however, time and again, assured me that these spiders, especially big ones, are harmless. At least to humans. They are the good guys. They eat the bad bugs. And they are really common during the summer season, especially the rainy season, in Japanese homes. They tell me that all Japanese homes will have some spiders. They just leave them alone.

My colleague even told me to look on the bright side. Since I only have a few visiting spiders and not other more horrible buggy problems like cockroaches or rats. She has a cockroach problem at her apartment. Now that's way worse off than me. And btw, Japanese cockroaches can fly. Eeeks. Just for record, I have not seen any cockroach at my place, and would like to keep it that way. *cross fingers*

But why do these huge hideous spiders invade our private space? Besides on a lookout of food, one other reason they like to hide in our houses is because they are seeking dry shelter from the rain.

After my Japanese colleagues and neighbors' repeated assurances, I had tried to coexist with spider. I thought that if they didn't intrude in my life, I don't mind them feasting on whatever bugs in and near our apartments. We could live in harmony. But living in harmony is so difficult! These are hunting spiders, thick legs, huge bodies, scary patterns on their body... They look so intimidating!

The last straw came last night, when I spotted a 5cm spider in my bedroom. I was warned by my predecessor before, that she had seen a palm-sized one beside her bed once, and she drowned it with insecticide. (Yes, drowned. Not kill.) So, I shouldn't be that alarmed. Eventually after dressing in full battlewear (gloves, socks, armed with my latest -85 degree Celsius bug freezing spray- (it freezes the bug and not poisons the bug), me and the spider had a long fight, in our, ops.. my, bedroom. First, I chased it around, trying my best to spray at it, but it is just too fast, too hardy. Next, I need to trap it, and finally after chasing it across 3/4 of my bedroom. It is all curled up and froze to death.

My best helper, the freezing spray.

I do not know why, but despite repeated assurances that they are pretty harmless. I do not like the idea of them invading my private sanctury, especially while I am unconscious. Yup, they do not attack. Usually. What happens when one happens transpass my bed, and at that exact moment, I turn and rest on it?! I can't imagine!!!

And what is more depressing is that regardless of how much I clean my house, they are still there. I do not know where they come from. Since I have never seen them in the last 10 months in my apartment since I was here.

So here's how I am coping:
  1. Continue to keep the place as clean as possible. Rid them of their food source, bugs, mosquitoes, whatever.
  2. Only open the windows with the wire meshes on. Otherwise, keep windows closed at all times.
  3. Keep a freezing spray near me, at all times.
  4. Stay positive. At least I have spiders who police my apartment and not such other beastly pests that feast on me. Eeeks.

The freezing spray is really useful. There is no lingering smell after use, and the white spot that appears when you spray continuously at disappears after a while, which means it's likely water. It is said to kill by freezing and not by poisoning. I actually hope there are such sprays in Singapore to kills roaches with. I hate the smell of insecticides.

I don't know if I can ever coexist with them. But definitely it is a kill-all order if it invades my bedroom and bathroom.

No, spiders, you can't get near me where I may be vulnerable. But I have to agree. My bedroom did become void of mosquitoes after that one and only spider visit.

I am so glad 梅雨 is finally over now. I deal summers better without the constant awful stickiness feeling. *cross fingers* Bug life did seem to be a little less active as well.


Jasper Shek said...

Where did you find that spray!? I think I will need to invest in a couple of those just so I can sleep knowing I have something to keep those critters at bay!

Jasper Shek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bzer03 said...

Just saw an anime with one of those in it GJ club (had to look it up and found this blog). Nothing like that to break a mood.
I think I'd be in a catatonic state if I ever encountered oone of those. My impression of Japan just became less ideal.

QQ said...

The spray can be found in most pharmacies and supermarkets. It is pretty common in Japan.

Wei Kiat Teo said...

Hi QQ,

May I know what is the average price of the spray in Japan's supermarkets or pharmacy?