I detest any kind of constraint, confinement and tight spaces. It goes as far as me feeling a little bit sorry for an H4 lamp, shining its light in the confined space of the headlight housing, emitting heat, and not getting to see much of the world through the thick glass. You think that’s silly? I suppose it is. But what actually did make my hair stand on end the other day was a new guest – namely a spider. Not in the shower where you can carefully fish it out, while your girlfriend runs through the apartment, naked, wet and screeching hysterically, sweeping model cars off the shelf with her towel. No, in the right headlight of my car. Yes, exactly, IN the headlight, behind the glass, giving a friendly wave with one of its eight legs, asking to be let out. I’ve never seen anything like it. How did it get in there? Now it’s time to act because the food supply in there is not exactly abundant; besides, I’m also afraid that there’ll be a distorted light beam at night and a slight smell of burning after driving with high beam on for a while. It really mustn’t get that far.
Where an animal can get in, it can also get out again – you’d think. After opening the hood, I can see at the back of the headlight that the rubber lip for keeping out moisture has slipped a bit. That could have been Aranea’s gateway. My techie colleague Fritz goes on about spiders being attracted by yellow light in his emails to me. He just doesn’t take my car light color preferences seriously, and he’ll be giving his expert opinion on my new eight-legged friend and the rubber at the rear of the headlight in this article. My main mission is to get the arthropod out of my car’s headlight unscathed. It becomes evident quite quickly that removing the rubber and lamp alone won’t do. As part of the whole rescue operation, I have to take out the complete headlight, and I’m once again relieved that in my old banger this is doable with a single Phillips screw.
As I’m lovingly shaking the oval box and looking in through the glued-in glass, I have the strong suspicion that the spider is reluctant to leave. It braces its little feet against the opening in which the lamp normally sits. Its instinct of self-preservation doesn’t appear to be in line with the behavior of human drivers. I won’t be able to get it out like that. My neighbor looks over, sees me shaking the headlight and asks if I need help. No, thank you, too embarrassing. I quickly remove the lamp base’s jammed bracket on my workbench, point a warm, bright desk lamp onto the fairly big hole and let a few minutes pass. Ah, and there it is. It’s carefully moving its black body and thin tiny legs out of the headlight, giving me a confused and hungry look, and then quickly scurries off toward the garden. Mission accomplished.
I put everything back together in five minutes and push down the rubber lip onto the rear of the headlight a bit firmer this time. It may well be warm and dry in a headlight for a while, but perhaps the little animals and insects will prefer to stay in their usual habitat from now on.
The patter of eight tiny feet
by Fritz Lorek
I personally believe that a spider in a headlight should be seen as a feature. Tuners pay a lot of money for evil eyes and other kitsch to build up some serious street cred. But how does all that stuff help against the scare that a tastefully backlit or even projected eight-legged insect gives you? If you’re not interested in this question you may ask yourself though how the animal got into the headlight in the first place and why it is setting off on this arduous path to the lights at all.
Trying to stay serious, I first of all consulted a multi-volume work of arachnology, the science of spiders. An advocate of this science called Wenzel found out as early as in 1979 that the eyes of spiders are optimized for wavelengths above 450 nanometers. This kind of light is … you guessed it, yellow!
But because the favorite light color of spiders also includes a fair share of green, Jens’s favorite car light color shouldn’t have played a major role in his guest’s choice of accommodation inside the headlight housing. Scientifically also known as arthropods, these animals simply love narrow gaps and cracks. They definitely exist in headlights, even though it’s not because of sloppily mounted or defective seals. After all, the eyes of our cars have a ventilation system. Through its ducts insects and spiders occasionally find their way into the cozy warmth of the headlight housing. But they have to be quite clever because designers actually make their life a little harder with sieve inserts or labyrinth systems. Apparently there are drivers though who extend the ventilation ducts with coarse tools because they want to let a few droplets of mist in the headlights dry out faster – to the delight of all eight-legged creatures.
What if a spider gives car owners a fright with a cheeky grin through the headlight cover? Removing the entire headlight can only be expected from such gifted hobby mechanics as Jens. Alternatively, hosts of the little scuttlers can count on their natural desire for freedom – after all, they won’t find any food in the headlight. So remove the back cover overnight and possibly also take out the bulbs. This provides escape routes, and, while you’re at it, you could also replace the light sources. Preventive maintenance is never a bad idea. Carefully reinstalling covers and the like makes more unwanted visits difficult.
If the multi-legged visitor refuses to leave or if you are looking for a quick solution, try a vacuum cleaner over the openings where the lamps are replaced. Animal lover Jens may well stop being friends with me because of this tip.