PHOTOS: The biggest spiders you found in Leeds homes - but how can you stop them coming in?

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Photos of huge spiders spotted in Leeds houses have been flooding into our newsroom in the past few days.

Readers have been sharing these hair-raising snaps of the biggest eight-legged beasts in Leeds.

People have been sending photos of their horrific spiders in Leeds and Yorkshire

People have been sending photos of their horrific spiders in Leeds and Yorkshire

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Nicci McCulloch said: "I've had had three gigantor ones already!!!

"One was at the sink trying to drink the washing up liquid and last night one ran up the curtains in the bedroom just as I was going to sleep.....made the curtains move!"

Amanda Hallard added (rather harshly, we think): "I don’t need to see that! I always assume these stories are crap, but seeing your picture proves they’re not! "

Why are spiders coming into your house now?

A spider from reader Sean Magee

A spider from reader Sean Magee

Huge spiders have been spotted inside homes across Yorkshire - and they're looking for mates.

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This year, the season is beginning EARLY - thanks to the unseasonable heatwave driving them out of their garden hiding places and into homes.

House spiders will remain in their webs in sheds, garages and wood piles during the summer, until going on the hunt for a mate in autumn.

That means they'll be moving into your house in the hope of getting some action.

A spider photo from reader Daniel Scott

A spider photo from reader Daniel Scott

Despite their fearsome looks, house spiders aren't dangerous - and can be safely taken back to the garden with a glass and a bit of paper (but you might want to close your windows).

Spiders also play an important role in your home's ecosystem - they eat flies, aphids, ants, moths and other pests that can clutter up your home. In many ways, a spider is the best critter you can keep on hand (but they aren't to everyone's tastes).

How can you keep spiders out of your house?

-Close all doors and windows

A spider photo from Christina Brooks

A spider photo from Christina Brooks

-Seal gaps around windows and doors, make sure there are no gaps in skirting boards or in plaster joins. You can use a bit of filler from a DIY store to put into cracks or gaps

-Draw a chalk line around your bed or across doorways. Spiders taste with their feet - they don't like crossing chalk. Lemon juice also works, but this may attract flies instead...

-Peppermint oil - spiders hate the taste and the smell. Spray this along windowsills and door frames.

-Conkers DON'T work. It's a myth!

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A spider's typical life, according to the British Arachnological Association

The powder-blue young emerge from their egg sacs, together with 70 or so siblings, in late spring.

A spider photo from Pam Clulow

A spider photo from Pam Clulow

After a few weeks they disperse, build their own miniature webs and start to feed. The young of the year moult two or three times before overwintering as halfgrown juveniles.

Growth resumes the following spring and the spiders reach maturity later that year - males in August or September and females a couple of weeks later.

The newly-mature males leave their webs and search for the more sedentary females. This is the time of year when large house spiders are often seen running across carpets or become trapped in baths and sinks.

When a male finds a female that is soon to moult to maturity he moves into her retreat and stays close by, guarding her until she is adult. Repeated bouts of mating then occur with the male often lingering for the next few weeks to prevent the female mating with other partners.

When cold weather comes the male dies – he’s then about 18 months old. The female overwinters within her retreat and in spring, when temperatures and food supplies increase, she begins to build a series of egg sacs.

These are hung close to the web and are about the size of a ring-finger nail.

They are made of white silk and often decorated externally with the remains of past meals such as fly carcasses. The mother plays no further role in the lives of her offspring and usually dies before the next winter, when she’s about 30 months old.