“OMG, get THAT thing out of here!”

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THEIR creepy presence in Coleraine homes is usually greeted by a high pitched shriek.

The now all too frequent sight of these enormous eight-legged invaders shuttling out of corners and under sofas is causing real panic in local homes.

For houses across the borough are being invaded by frighteningly large house spiders in increasing numbers — mainly because it’s mating season and males are on the search for females.

It’s thought there are around 400 spider species in Northern Ireland. The only good news for arachnaphobes is that they are all HARMLESS.

Emeritus Professor of Terrestrial Ecology at the University of Ulster, Keith Day, saysthe species people are noticing at the moment are the larger ones, probably Tegenaria — the giant house spider.

“They are a very large spider with a leg span of several centimetres and a body size of a fingernail,” he said.

“They can move fairly quickly and scuttle off when disturbed.”

Professor Day said spiders are now looking for a place to live over winter.

“They don’t seek warm, dry houses,” he added. “What they are really looking for are outhouses and cellars, because they like dark, damp, cool places, but they will come into houses too.”

Professor of Animal Behaviour at Queen’s University, Bob Elwood, said Tegenaria can cause alarm when it gets into houses and bathtubs.

“They are the ones that tend to cause people to run squealing out of rooms,” he said.

“In my household, it’s when I am called.

“People noticing them at this time of year has a lot to do with mating. Males are moving around seeking females at the moment.”