Catch And Release


A few minutes ago youngest son presented a wad of toilet paper. “Hey Mom, does this look like a black widow?” Before I could say “pretty sure it was before you squashed it to smithereens”, youngest son apologetically explained his act of arachnid annihilation. “Sitting on the toilet when it ran towards me, squashed it before I had time to think”. Trust me it wasn’t after you, went unspoken. Youngest son knew how I felt about killing spiders.

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Spider bites are extremely rare, truth is they want nothing to do with us. Spiders exist to control insect populations. House spiders control flies, snag mosquitoes, sideline beetles and trounce moths. Garden spiders feast on aphids ,control grubs and beetles, dissuade spider mites and crop destroying grasshoppers. But for spiders, ours would be a unrecognizable world. Like it or not, spiders matter.

It’s no secret I have a thing for spiders. Truth be told, the first thing I did after youngest son dispatched bathroom widow was check on kitchen widow. The sight of kitchen window widow’s shellacked body eased regret over bathroom widow’s demise. Well behaved spiders are welcome in my house, uppity ones are caught and released.

Catch and release contradicts human nature. Instinct commands our imperative to eradicate arachnid invaders. I get it, house spiders terrify most people. That said, next time a spider surprises you on the toilet, muster the fortitude to catch and release. All it takes is a glass and sheet of paper. Spiders aren’t after us, they mean us no harm. Trust me, catch and release feels great.

 

 

Fat Deck Widow


Last night I met the biggest baddest Black Widow spider. In polite residence behind a flower pot, she exhibited outrage when my broom swept her onto the deck. Stopped in my tracks, this was no ordinary widow. Reflex trumped reason, instinct called for capture. There I stood, mesmerized by the cup of deck widow in my hand. Behemoth is an understatement, abdomens of bedroom, kitchen and basement widows combined wouldn’t equal the girth of deck widow’s belly. Now what?

Couldn’t say how much time lapsed between scrutinizing her magnificence and impulsively running downstairs to show my husband. ” Caught the biggest widow I’ve ever seen” – no match for “Are you crazy? Kill it!”. What was I thinking – he’s snakes I’m spiders, together we have it covered and obviously the two will never meet. “Relax, I’ll take care of it”.

Logically, deck widow needed a new home. Not all arachnids can be trusted, sometimes spiders call for catch and release. Cup in hand I crossed the street, depositing deck widow on the sidewalk for one last look.  The couple walking their dog couldn’t hide assumptions I was out of my mind. Intent on capturing photos with my phone, they didn’t ask, nor did I explain deck widow was one bad ass spider.

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Seven Black Widow Spiders


Statistically this is my most viewed post. Since original posting, I’ve learned my black widow house spiders are actually False widows – still doesn’t explain why this of all my 1,000 plus posts is the most read.

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I spotted Black Widow spiders number six and seven in my laundry room. One through five appeared last summer. I managed to wrangle most of them, unfortunately six and seven eluded capture. This is not good. Laundry is in the basement, fingers crossed black widows like basements.

Growing up in rural B.C. we were taught to be on the lookout for two things – rattlesnakes and black widow spiders. Not once did I encounter either. Here I am 40 years later, encased in urban sprawl with black widows everywhere. Hard to call it surprising – I never saw a coyote, skunk, or raccoon either, and all of them are regular occurrences in my city yard.

This leads me to ponder evolution and adaptation of species. Why my house in the middle of a city is besieged by an infestation of spiders remains unanswered. Not just any spider, but black widows with potential to deliver a…

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Suck You Bedroom Widow


I need my head examined. The first few arachnid invaders were greeted with  less alarm than interest. Black Widow spiders weren’t supposed to live in Vancouver – at least that’s what I believed. A little research tore that notion to shreds – the first couple I caught and released, the next few – admittedly stomped in defensive annoyance. Convincing myself these were isolated incidences  contained within the walls of our basement laundry room – it went on the “to do” list with best intentions.

A few months later “kitchen widow” showed herself. This wasn’t good. I meant to address my escalating spider problem, several attempts to catch kitchen widow failed. After a while I got used to her – she was predictable, never strayed from her window plot – at least I knew where she was.

Tonight something fell behind the dresser in my bedroom. Flat on the floor, flashlight in hand – a spot light shone on “bedroom widow”. Unlike the prior spinsters, I swear she looked at me and said “I dare you”. Twice as big, her massive, bulbous belly taunting my next move with unflinching bravado.

I don’t think so bedroom widow. Cunning stealth consumed my every breath as I tippy toed for the vacuum cleaner. Slow motion determination guided my belly to the floor – flashlight in one hand, vacuum hose in the other. SUCK YOU BEDROOM WIDOW.

Photo

Mature female western black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus.

Photo by Rick S. Vetter.

http://www.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/efauna/spiders.html

 

 

Snakes or Spiders?


Spiders don’t bother me; for decades I’ve been the designated spider slayer in my home. Naturally the designation doesn’t thrill me – those substantial arachnid intruders; the ones you can almost hear as they tip tap across the floor give me pause for a second – then it’s down to business, people are counting on me. To the dismay of the family, if at all possible I capture and release them outside. Assurances they aren’t hit men, have no vendetta, and are unlikely to make their way back inside do little to soothe the phobic nerves of my family.

Spiders are a fact of life, most are harmless, or at least not life threatening. Even the seven black widow spiders I’ve spotted, captured, or killed over the last year in my basement, don’t bother me as long as they stay downstairs.

Snakes are a completely different story; I’m incapable of applying the same rational thoughts when a snake is involved. Living in the heart of a major city in British Columbia, a snake should be the last thing to worry about. Or so I thought – “Daddy, please catch a snake for us” was the plea from our young children. We were on Vancouver Island, garter snakes were everywhere, and before I could scream “are you out of your mind”, we’re on the ferry home with a snake in a pail. The kids have already named it Mrs. Slithers.

Telling myself “hysteria” was a poor example for the kids, I made myself scarce as my husband set Mrs. Slithers up in an old aquarium. I even took the high ground when he assured me it couldn’t get out, and I was being silly. I didn’t “freak out” in front of the kids, I didn’t tell him he could deal with house spiders from now on, I even attempted interest. The next day Mrs. Slithers had 11 babies.

Kids love playing with baby snakes – kids love having all their friends over to play with baby snakes. Within a few days we were down to 7 or 8 babies. Attempts to convince myself the missing snakes were outside lasted about as long as a snowball in July. It was time for the Slithers family to move out – we made a day out of delivering them to the shore of Beaver Lake in Stanley Park.

What is it about phobias that make us lose our minds? Why is it that we trivialize the phobia of others as “silly”? Some studies suggest we are programmed to fear spiders and snakes as they could cause harm, while others contend these phobias are a learned behaviour – passed on by phobic parents. I grew up in a place where we were taught from a early age to watch out for rattlesnakes and black widow spiders yet snakes are the only thing that makes my skin crawl. When I think about it – I can’t come up with a single person I know who fears both snakes and spiders. Go figure.

Seven Black Widow Spiders


I spotted Black Widow spiders number six and seven in my laundry room. One through five appeared last summer. I managed to wrangle most of them, unfortunately six and seven eluded capture. This is not good. Laundry is in the basement, fingers crossed black widows like basements.

Growing up in rural B.C. we were taught to be on the lookout for two things – rattlesnakes and black widow spiders. Not once did I encounter either. Here I am 40 years later, encased in urban sprawl with black widows everywhere. Hard to call it surprising – I never saw a coyote, skunk, or raccoon either, and all of them are regular occurrences in my city yard.

This leads me to ponder evolution and adaptation of species. Why my house in the middle of a city is besieged by an infestation of spiders remains unanswered. Not just any spider, but black widows with potential to deliver a very bad day. Spiders that are supposed to reside in a climate far different than rainy Vancouver. I guess my dry basement offers  warm haven – small comfort in the face of possible flesh eating bites.

It could be worse; the bite of a black widow won’t kill you, only melt your flesh. If Brown Recluse were the problem, I’d be packing my bags instead of writing. All the same, I’d like them to move out – seven black widows in less than a year doesn’t make me happy.