Imagine you wake in the wee hours of a dark night, turn on the hall light and head to the bathroom.

But the hall light reveals something that makes your flesh dance with goosebumps and your scalp tingle. On the rug sits a large black, hairy spider, staring at you with several of its eight eyes.

What to do? The thing is too big to squash and you are not about to pick up the hairy monster in a tissue and flush it down the toilet. You run back into your bedroom, grab the empty water glass on your night table, thinking to trap the hideous spider under the glass until you can figure out your next move.

Glass in hand you run back to the hallway, only to discover the spider has vanished. Where can the thing be? In the bathroom? In one of the other two bedrooms?

Or … no, please no … not in your own bedroom sanctuary, under your bed or, heaven forbid, in your bed! You hurry downstairs to spend the rest of the night on the couch, under an afghan.

Did I use the word “imagine” at the beginning of this story? I don’t have to imagine this scenario. I’ve lived it more than once and so, probably, have you.

A recent survey of homes in North Carolina found spiders living in one hundred percent of the homes. Three-quarters of them were found in bedrooms. It might make you want to sleep with ear plugs and your mouth taped shut.

For some reason two European biologists, Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer, decided to add up all the food consumed by the entire population of the world’s spiders in a year. Keep in mind, all spiders except one species are carnivores. They eat insects, lizards, even small mammals and birds. There are giant bird-eating spiders living in South America called Goliaths.

Nyffeler and Birkhofer published their estimate in a journal, Science of Nature. In their article the biologists reported, “The world’s spiders consume somewhere between 400 million and 800 million tons of prey in any given year.”

Considering that the entire human population on earth eats about 400 million tons of meat and fish a year, those eight-leggers surpass us in appetite.

While most spiders are loners, some species actually cooperate and communicate well enough to build communal webs. In a Dallas suburb thousands of spiders worked together to build webs reaching more than 40 feet into the trees. That fact alone seems like an invitation to Hollywood for a horror movie much like the great Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror-thriller, “The Birds,” in which all species of birds band together to attack humans.

In fact the Washington Post article made the suggestion that if spiders around the world got together for a grand feast, they could devour every human on the planet. Even with all that human prey some spiders would still feel left out, wondering why they weren’t invited to dinner.

In fairness to the arachnids of the world, they do a great service to the environment by consuming huge numbers of insects.

Even so, I don’t want them in my personal environment, like the dark dusty environment under my bed, which is just the kind of place they like to call home. I have a pact with spiders. If they agree to stay out of my territory (house, patio, porch) I promise to let them live happily everywhere else. Trespassers will face death by squashing.

Irene Marinelli writes a weekly column for The Dominion Post. Write her at