Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Uninvited house guests


The rain might be lashing down outside but there's still plenty of wildlife to track down much closer to home. Unless your house is hermetically sealed and doused in deadly chemical cleaning agents, any or all of these could be lurking in the shadows.



If you settle down to read a good book and the punctuation seems to be moving around, then you could be looking at one of these tiny booklice. They are not much bigger that a full stop and feed on fungi that grow on damp paper, and also eat the glue that holds the pages together. Old damp paperbacks are prime habitat but they also like nothing better that feeding on wallpaper paste behind loose wallpaper. If your wallpaper makes clicking noises, it may be because they are headbutting it during their courtship.


Silverfish. You might have these most ancient of insects, that move like greased lightning, in a damp corner of a kitchen cupboard where they like to feed on starchy foods like flour.


Silverfish Lepisma saccharina are covered in tiny scales that rub-off easily, making it easier for them to wriggle out of the grip of a predator - which might go some way to explaining why they've been around for 400 million years.



This is the firebrat, the silverfish's larger and hairier cousin. It likes warmer conditions and used to be common in bakeries. Give yourself a pat on the back if you provide a home for these - they are not very common.



































And finally, the daddy long-legs spider Pholcus phalangioides. Whatever you do, don't throw these out of the house as they can't survive anywhere else. They are humans' constant companions, only ever found inside our homes and outbuildings in our northern latitudes. They are useful to have around, preying on other household invertebrates - even on the fearsome house spider that comes into our homes during cold weather. This daddy long-legs spider is showing her maternal instincts by carrying her eggs around in her jaws.

10 comments:

  1. I have field mice. I catch them and carry them on my walk. Release the little blighters when I an a mile away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i get them in the greenhouse in winter, so trap them and deport them to a local woodland. Hope they're not homing mice .... have a great Christmas Adrian, and all the best for 2016

      Delete
  2. As a kid I remember seeing loads of silverfish in the empty bath. Not seen any for ages now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think modern houses are a more hostile environment these days. All the best for Christmas and New Year Keith (and Whisky)!

      Delete
  3. Great shots, I'm still not getting the hang of the macro thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Simon. Have a great Christmas and all the best for 2016

      Delete
  4. Is the Daddy Longlegs spider the same as what I would call a Harvestman?

    In my first home in Wales, there was a lot of dampness and Silverfish were a common sight.

    Season's Greetings to you and yours Phil.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This daddy longlegs spider is a true spider - harvestmen look similar but aren't true spiders because they only have one pair of eyes and their body isn't divided into two parts. Happy Christmas to you Toffeeapple - and all the best for the coming year.

      Delete
  5. Spider on the kitchen counter today. And a silverfish in the tub this morning. Ever since you posted this it seems the critters have been visiting my house. I'm following your advice, of course, and not tossing them out into the snow. Lots of room for everyone here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, Kate! You've discovered the Cabinet of Curiosities curse ........ I promise not to post any pictures of cockroaches.

      Delete