It is the stuff of nightmares for most people.
You open your letterbox and a large spider rears aggressively on its hind legs as hundreds upon hundreds of its babies swarm in a seething mass of fangs, bulging black eyes and long, hairy limbs.
But for one Bendigo woman and her two nephews it was a cause for celebration.
Natasha Joyce and a cohort of neighbourhood kids had been so excited about the big day for a Holconia hunstman they had dubbed ‘Hortense’ they built her a nursery.
“We checked on her everyday since she moved in six weeks ago and yesterday the eggs hatched,” Ms Joyce said.
“There were hundreds, at least two hundred … we were incredibly excited.”
The La Trobe University student and self described “science geek” said she had been using the arrival of Hortense – full name, ‘Hortense Protector of the Post – as “a bit of a science and nature lesson” for her weekly childminding duties.
“It’s been a real hit with the neighbourhood kids,” she said.
“They love it.
“As soon as my four-year-old nephew comes here he says – ‘I want to see the big spider lady’.
“And when I looked after friend’s daughters, who are 6 and 8-years-old, they were so excited about the babies they made Hortense a little nursery, complete with a nappy changing table, cot and sofa.”
Though an neighbourhood experiment, the letterbox incubation received advice from some of the state’s highest scientific authorities.
When the backyard scientists and midwifes first found the large egg sac in Ms Joyce’s letterbox they turned to Museums Victoria for advice.
They were cautioned that the incubation period made a mother huntsman “extremely protective of her egg sac”and “much more readily than at other times”.
But Ms Joyce believes the non-toxic spiders are misunderstood.
“They’re big and they’re scary because they move fast and they’re hairy,” she said.
“But they’re pretty harmless ... they do have a nasty bite but it’s very, very unlikely that they’ll attack you in anyway.
“I’ve been educating my friends about how good they are to have in the garden as a natural pest control.
“And if they do come into the house they normally move on by themselves in a few days.”
Nor is she worried about her garden being overrun by giant hairy spiders. Of the hundreds of hatchlings, only two or three are likely to reach maturity.
And as far the poor postie?
Ms Joyce said she did spare them a thought, but decided they would probably have been none-the-wiser about the whole letterbox “experiment”.
“When you open the letterbox she does rear up and get aggressive,” Ms Joyce said.
“So we originally made up a spare post box just in case.
“But Hortense went into a position in the corner where we could still access the mail – and the postie probably never even even knew she was there.”