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A St Andrew's Cross spider, so named because it puts a white X of thick silk in the middle of its web.

Last year or the year before was a good period for insects and for spiders in the UK, taking advantage of this situation. This led to a bizarre form of the common house spider. Instead of the extra food leading to an increase in total size, all this nourishment went straight to their legs, creating arachnids on stilts. We had one behind the headboard, one sticking out of a hole in the wall as it' legs wouldn't fit (just below the bedroom window) and one that climbed onto one of our dogs, sleeping in the garage, leading to a rude awakening.

I have never been a fan of these particular life forms. I remember as a teenager going into my bedroom once, only to discover one over the doorway and not knowing whether to run out the door and risk it falling on me or to stay put. In the end I ran for it. Another incident involved me tidying up a garage where I worked, coming out and a colleague saying, did you know you had a big spider on your shoulder? I thought he was joking but took off my jumper to look, squashing the poor thing half to death.

Where we live has cereal fields behind it and when I lived at home it was the same. I blame this on the plague of these things, in the area. One year I caught eleven of them in the house, over the winter period. It's funny, but it is only this variety of spider I have a problem with. Garden spiders I find pretty, tarantulas don't bother me, but house spiders, with their chevroned bodies, every so often bring out the arachnaphobe in me. I don't know if I hate the long-legged, small-bodied ones or the short-legged, fat, bloated bodies the most. I don't even know what kick started this phobia but maybe it was being a small child in a cot, in the old rickety house we first lived in, but that would be my guess.

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