Farewell daddy long-legs, hello pearls

GIRLS WITH PEARLS: Pearls make the ideal June birthday gift.
GIRLS WITH PEARLS: Pearls make the ideal June birthday gift.

PLEASE could you tell me how to get rid of the “daddy long-legs” spiders. At first I felt sorry for them and did not spray insecticide, but now they have multiplied and are in every nook and cranny. I do spray now but it does not help. – HL, Port Elizabeth.

Spiders are tough, courageous and persistent, so much so that they feature in history, and even in Shakespeare’s plays. The Bard wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“Weaving spiders come not here; Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!”

It seems that daddy long-legs has been around for a while and, as you have discovered, you won’t deter them with insecticide sprays. Other readers have tried and failed.

About the only thing you can do, is to keep cleaning away the webs. It will be your persistence against theirs.

You can catch them by placing a broad-mouthed beer glass over the spider, and then slipping a piece of paper underneath, trapping the spider inside the glass. You can then deposit it safely in the garden.

You can also try the method that works with geckos – spray a strong-smelling repellent on the walls where the spiders occur, not on the spiders themselves. This may keep them away.

But whatever you do, don’t try the method I’ve mentioned before, used by a German woman. She attempted to immobilise a spider by spraying it with hairspray, and then lit her cigarette lighter. The result? She burnt the house down!

You have no doubt featured this before, but I need advice on cleaning a front-loader washing machine. I have bought the usual chemical mix, but I’m sure there is a wonderful home remedy. – RvZ, Port Elizabeth.

It is some time since this subject was mentioned in the column, so perhaps other readers would also find the answers of interest. Here are three tried-and-tested methods.

Put a scoop of dishwasher machine powder or the equivalent tablet directly into the drum, and then run your empty machine on its hottest cycle. The advice originally came from an appliance dealer in Johannesburg.

He later provided me with a second method. Instead of powder, pour 750ml of spirit vinegar directly into the drum. Then, as before, run the machine on its hottest cycle. I’m a huge fan of vinegar. It should also combat any odours in the machine.

“SD” passed on a tip from an Italian friend who worked at Coega salt pans. Put one cup of coarse salt in the machine once a month, and run it on a hot cycle. This “disinfects the pipes and takes away the slime and dirt”.

Dishwasher powder is also recommended for top-loaders. For a 7.5kg drum, use 100g. For a 9-10kg drum, use between 100 and 125g, and for an 11-13kg drum, between 125 and 150g of powder.

Allow the machine to operate for several minutes, switch off, open the lid and leave to soak overnight. Next day, drain and then run the empty machine through a normal cycle.

We have a much-loved niece who will be 21 in June. We would like to give her a present containing her birth stone. Please can you tell us what this is for the month of June? – FR, Port Elizabeth.

It is pearl. The qualities it enhances are health and a “charm of manner”. So says a quaint old list I have on the subject. It was drawn up in Britain in 1912 by the National Association of Goldsmiths.

The full list is: January, garnet; February, amethyst; March, aquamarine; April, diamond; May, emerald; June, pearl; July, ruby; August, peridot; September, sapphire; October, opal; November, topaz; December, turquoise.

Yes, I also wondered about peridot. The dictionary describes it as a green variety of semi-precious stone.

 – At Your Service, by Gwen Bisseker

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