Compost Alert!

This morning I went down to empty the weekly compost (from the ice-cream containers that sit in our kitchen) into the compost bin (which you can see here). The compost has been going for a few months now, no troubles, and I was thinking it might be nearly time to turn it.


After I finished clearing away the spider webs around the general under-the-house walls/ceiling area with the end of the rake, I lifted the lid of the compost to find a bunch of these gross little grub things. They were all through the compost, like everywhere. They were not there last week. Sure, there were a few grubby looking things, but they were black or brown and they were not in these prolific numbers – I thought they looked like they were being helpful, so I left them. These new grub things kind of reminded me of a big pile of maggots, except they’re bigger, not quite so white and if you look really closely, they had something that was like little hairs on them.


Pile of wiggly grubs in my compost - are these supposed to be there?

Then I stopped looking too closely, because I realised there were a bunch of spiders all around the rim of the compost bin… spiders that looked a lot like redbacks. Now, my great-great-grandmother died from a redback spider bite, and I’d like to not add to the family history in that way. Not to mention, I’m a bit arachnophobic. Nothing severe, but I am the squealy, shrieky, stand-on-top-of-the-toilet-while-someone-chases-the-spider-outside kind of person. It doesn’t really go with my pseudo-tough genderqueer image, but there you have it. Spiders make me shudder.

compost bin spiders

Spiders around the rim of my compost bin. Little males and big mama! These kind of look like redbacks.

I felt very brave in going to get a camera to document the grubs and spiders, so someone can help me identify them and decide whether the compost is salvageable and if not, whether I can get rid of it myself or whether I need pest control. I ain’t messing with redbacks (or red house spiders or common house spiders or whatever they are… my google -fu is failing me in identification of the spiders, even though I forced myself to look at all these pictures of hairy, gross spiders).

compost bin spiders

A close-up image of the big mama and some little guys. The black thing at the bottom is a dead bug in their web, so don't worry about that. You can see the mama at the top has a huge abdomen, nearly the size of a pea. The males are considerably smaller. I think there might have been some smaller females too - they were kind of in-between sized. I looked at the mama to check the colour - she had a red-brown thorax and legs, but her abdomen was almost black. Where I would expect the red stripe to be though, there were white spots. I didn't look underneath her to see if she had the characteristic hourglass shape on her belly! My gut says atypically-coloured redbacks.

Here’s a video of the grubs and spiders. The video really helps you get an idea of the wiggly feralness of the grubs, but the spiders aren’t brilliantly in focus (I just used my still camera and it doesn’t allow me to re-focus in the middle of a recording). I have included some pictures (above, with descriptions), which also aren’t great, because the compost bin isn’t in the most well-lit position. My first instinct when I saw them was ‘redback!’, so I try to trust my gut.

So what should I do??

[EDIT next day: Jump to this post if you want to read what I have since learned about my creepy, crawly compost.]



2 thoughts on “Compost Alert!

  1. Pingback: Spotlight: Natural Pest Control « Eco Lesbo Vego

  2. Pingback: Composting Revisited « Eco Lesbo Vego

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