What Have I Done


Chances of finding someone who shares relaxed indifference toward a Black Widow spider living 18 months in their basement window are slim to none. Likewise genuine remorse for basement widow’s unceremonious death, or wobbly knee outrage over vacuum hose eradication wielded by a concerned family member. I sulked for weeks, outraged by audacity of family capable of decisive spider intervention while I was away.

“I liked that spider, it wasn’t bothering you!” met “Are you nuts? Have you seen what a Black Widow bite can do?”. Yes I replied, but you don’t understand, this spider liked the basement window. Knowing they acted reasonably didn’t ease the loss of basement widow.

I haven’t told them basement widow’s polite demeanor might have been a peculiar anomaly. Nor have I divulged “what have I done” alarm over recent Black Widow sightings. Widows I might add, who by all appearances lack the courtesy of basement widow. Three Black Widow encounters in the past two days, all eluding attempts to catch and release, not one downstairs where they belong. Oh my, what have I done.

These widows are feisty, smaller and alarmingly craftier than the soothing persona of basement widow. One in windowsill cactus above my kitchen sink, another attempting to claim the bathroom window, a third exuding what you gonna do about it confidence between folds of the spare bedroom curtain. What have I done? Three allowed themselves to be seen, how many lurk unseen.

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Basement Widow Update


Basement widow hasn’t crossed my mind in a while. Paid a visit after work tonight, snapping a hasty cell phone image of her impressive domain.

Research indicates female black widows have a life span of up to three years. My spider is entering her second basement summer. Rest easy, I’ll update her status every few months.

Basement Widow’s Domain


A few days ago I noticed bathroom widow had moved on. She does this every autumn, bathroom widow is always the first to go. It took her conspicuous absence to prompt a reconnaissance mission. Scolding myself for being so remiss I took a long overdue, busy is no excuse tour of my house widow lairs. “Reconnaissance mission” is a tad dramatic, in truth there are only two widow camps left in the house. (There used to be four – bathroom widow moved out and bedroom widow succumbed to an unfortunate vacuum mishap several weeks ago ).

Kitchen widow hadn’t budged, nor by all appearances had she consumed a proper meal all summer. Much as I respect impeccable manners and polite adherence to house rules, she could learn a thing or two from basement widow.

Basement widow didn’t flinch when pulled blind thrust her into the spotlight. Presiding over a berm of skeletal remains, her marquee read “this is my domain”. “Outstanding” rolled off my lips. Beaming respect accompanied a closing of blind retreat. Reign on basement widow, reign on.

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Basement Widows’ Fat Beetle


Misplacing bedroom widow has me questioning guidelines of my liberal position on house spiders. Far from the first time a bedroom widow went missing, it may be time to tighten parameters of leniency. It was there this morning, tucked under the windowsill, politely respecting our agreement of six weeks – “stay as long as you like, but stay where you are”. I distinctly recall saying “have a nice day spider” as I left for work.

Maybe bedroom widow found the room a tad stifling, it was freaking hot today. Approaching midnight and the thermostat reads 82 degrees Fahrenheit on the main floor -unpleasant by any standard, I’m going to visualize lost widow blissfully sipping bug juice cocktails beneath soft cool mist falling from my garden canopy.

Downstairs is considerably cooler, almost bearable. As such, basement widow hasn’t made travel plans. Older, wiser and familiar with summer heat, basement widow is an asshole for not mentoring bedroom widow on the intricacies of household habitation. Greedy basement widow – I guess she wanted all the fat beetles for herself.

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Anyone faced with losing a spider, knows to take stock of all house spiders. Basement widow was right where I left her, busily bundling a fat beetle.

Black Widow Masquerade


Living for well over a year in a house dominated by an infestation of Black Widow spiders is stressful. Occasional laundry room encounters, replaced over time by flagrant ambush intent, a malicious massing of troops oblivious to boundaries or my personal space. Buoyed by apparent inaction – basement widows became kitchen, bathroom and bedroom sentries. No sooner would I find one, another was lost.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. My post “Seven Black Widow Spiders” ranks as third most read of nearly 850 posts. A lot of Vancouver residents were under siege.

Enter Catherine Scott, a student of Entomology at Simon Fraser University. Long story short – Catherine looked at photos of my spiders, concluding with enough certainty to make my day – it was all a masquerade. My cheeky Arachnid invaders are False Black Widows, AKA Steatoda Grossa, not Latrodectus Hesperus, the nightmare widows I feared.

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Steatoda Grossa – False Black Widow

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Less venomous, common in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, and easily masquerading as their ominous cousins if seen under dim light. Dark light makes them appear black, in reality their bulk is a brownish purple up close and personal under favourable lighting. The abdomen of False Widows is more oblong in shape than rounded bellies of true Black Widows.

Thank you Catherine, I slept much better last night.

 

I Lost My Spider


It started without incident, my last day of work before Christmas. No surprises, a repeat client – over and done in time for a quick nap before heading out to power shop Christmas. So far, so good.

Most years my shopping takes place over a frantic day and a half before 5 PM curfew on Christmas Eve. Not much for online shopping, my decision a few days ago to order a wide angle lens for my husband’s camera, brought me to Amazon for the first time. A babe in the woods – pleased with myself for taking his gift off the list, happily clicking on “guaranteed delivery” by December 23, seemed well worth the minimal extra charge. Believing my credit card purchase would be processed before shipping struck as reasonable. Not so fast –¬† logging into Amazon I discovered an “import fee deposit” of $45 in addition to taxes and expedited shipping fee. Hmm? I came home from work to find the package sitting on the doorstep, logged into my Visa account – holy crap! $45 had turned into $136. With taxes, shipping, and mysterious import fees – a $310 lens cost almost $500. Unimpressed is putting it mildly.

Live and learn notes. Time for that nap and shopping, at least his present was tucked away.My husband and I hit the mall. It was remarkable – giddy with progress, within half an hour it was back to the car to unload. Up went the glass lift-gate, in went the parcels – oops, the top part of the gate wasn’t locked. He opened it again (don’t know what possessed me other than trying to be helpful) I reached in to manually lock the gate just as he slammed it down. I can’t say for certain my finger is broken – without question the middle finger of my right hand is cut, bruised, swollen double size and sports a worrisome “bend”. It wasn’t his fault.

Time to call it a day. I’ll go home, pour myself a glass of wine, post some of his photographs – that will make me feel better.

Anyone who’s followed me a while knows about my Black Widow spider trouble. I’ve lost track – I think the one under the wood valance in my bedroom is number 13. I spotted her a few weeks ago. Not very big, incredibly polite, I cut her a deal – mind your manners, we’ll get along just fine.She thanked me for not vacuuming her to oblivion by keeping her end of the bargain. Until tonight.

I said goodbye this morning, she hasn’t strayed more than an inch or two in days.we were getting along famously. A few minutes ago I looked up – perfect, I’ve lost my spider.

 

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Black Widow Number Ten


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This picture of Black Widow number ten isn’t the sharpest, but the best I could muster considering the awkward corner of our basement she decided to hold court. Her growing pile of corpses¬† testament to her wise decision of laying low and keeping out of the way. The room is only used for storage, I can’t say what made me pull back the curtain, yet was fairly certain I would find her there.

She seems to be well mannered, I suspect no intention on her part to stray from her well established lair. Officially she is widow #11 because my husband assassinated one in the family room a few days ago – fair enough, I annihilated #9, who I dubbed bedroom widow because it lived under the dresser in my bedroom.

I’ve known for well over a year that my Vancouver home is infested with Black Widows. Almost 70 years old, practically nirvana for creepy crawlies seeking a safe warm place. My dilemma stems from finding them rather fascinating – I’ve watched several of her predecessors trap flies with admiration, whenever possible I catch and release spiders outside.

A combination of research and observation lulls me into a sense of security. Black Widows are not aggressive, don’t roam about or do anything other than politely stake claim to quiet corners. I’ve never seen one out for a stroll – undoubtedly a contributing factor in my progression towards a crazy spider lady – at least I don’t name them or hand feed sacrificial insects. I probably need my head examined – until I figure out what to do, all I ask is that they keep to the basement and stay out of the laundry basket. Enjoy life while you can #10, common sense always prevails – an exterminator is in your immediate future.