Are spiders afraid of conkers?

I doubt there’s a spider enthusiast who is not familiar with enquiries about how to keep spiders out of the house. It hardly needs to be pointed out that spider-lovers are the last people who should be asked such a question – indeed, many would probably be interested in how to make spiders come into a house, if such a thing were possible. House spiders can be every bit as interesting as those outside, and a lot easier to observe. I shall not deny the excitement I experienced when I rediscovered the spitting spider, Scytodes thoracica in my house, nearly twenty years after I had last seen one. With such fascinating creatures willing to share one’s home, how anyone could want to have fewer spiders indoors is sometimes hard for me to appreciate. But to pass as a responsible member of society it is sometimes necessary to maintain a certain abstraction, and thus to entertain queries from those who don’t have the same enthusiasm for spiders. Continue reading Are spiders afraid of conkers?

Gather ye conkers while ye may

Step out and have a look at your local conker trees… if you live in England or Wales you may be surprised at what you see. Some of them look like they are shedding their leaves prematurely.

Horse chestnuts, Ryde, Isle of Wight
Can you spot the horse chestnut trees?
The picture above, taken down the road from Ranger Towers, shows clearly the brown colour of the chestnuts highlighted against the healthy green of the ash in between. So what’s to blame? Are they simply dropping their leaves early, in some new climate-change related phenomenon?

Continue reading Gather ye conkers while ye may