I visited a lady in Selahouri the other day to vaccinate her cat (as one does) and afterwards, while admiring her garden with its abundance of fat small spiders, I asked if she was ever visited by the larger variety. I am glad I asked because she was able to tell me something I've been wanting to know for years...the name of the species of these beasts. It seems that some time ago she posted a dead one to the boffins at the Royal Entomological Society in London for identification and it didn't take them long.
So, we can all say welcome to Chaetopelma Aegyptiacum, a tarantula (no less) that is known to tarantula lovers as the Cypriot Grey and which is, officially, the largest spider in Europe (upto 15 cm long).
Their bite is, I have been told, not too painful and definitely not fatal and, in any case, they're not keen on the taste of tourists. Speaking with my neighbour the other day, she told me that she has many in her garden that live in little holes in the ground. When we were told the name, I thought Chaetopelma meant "Kato Pelma", Greek for under the sole of one's foot...I shall never walk barefoot in my neighbour's garden...not ever.
They are often mistaken for the almost identical species Chaetopelma Gracile which is a bit more common. Whatever. They are all thoroughly disgusting and the stuff of nightmares. If I haven't put you off coming to Symi this year, just remember to not accidentally take one back home in your suitcase.