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.
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.
Mature female western black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus.
I don’t know if Black Widows are coming out of the woodwork because the weather is changing or if I simply hadn’t noticed kitchen window Widow because a plant was in the way. Barely 2 days after discovering basement Widow #8, kitchen widow has made its presence known.
My house is old; built in the 1930’s, and crying for a fresh coat of paint. My kitchen is first in line – the reason I moved the plants off the windowsill to give it a good wash and sanding. I caught sight of kitchen widow after moving plants; reaching over to give the sill a good wash – I saw her. In all honesty it was her pile of insect carcasses that caught my attention – like a pile of bones outside a troll’s cave.
Probably not the best photo of kitchen Widow; taken on my phone at a strange angle, doing little to showcase her distinctive black “bulb” of a body. Never the less, I assure you it’s there. I think it would be safe to say – my house is officially infested with Black Widows. I don’t want to disturb kitchen Widow too much – at least I know where she is, and it looks like she’s been there a while. The last thing I need is to make her mad before I can figure a way out of this problem.
Black Widow Spider number eight – I applaud your sneaky antics. You’ve been strutting your stuff in the laundry room; assuming perhaps that I hadn’t noticed. Dessicated insects litter the windowsill, your presence sensed for ages – visual confirmation eluding me until tonight. You are craftier than your seven predecessors; waiting until the light bulb burnt out – waiting for me to fumble about in darkness before making a move. Kudos number eight; you almost got away with it, but I saw you – the jigs up.
Black Widow number eight concerns me a little more than the others. Once I was able to wrap my head around a Vancouver basement alive with Black Widows, avoidance was easy. The other spiders stayed put, discovered under the broom or in a corner, it was easy to dispatch them. Common sense dictated a few precautions – we managed under the same roof without incident. Number eight is different; by far the largest, certainly the fastest and without question the sneakiest.
Until number eight tried pulling a fast one on me – I’d just about forgotten about basement Widows. On some level I knew I still had a Black Widow problem; never occurring to me I would have to do something about it in late October. Still pondering why seven Widows never bothered me, yet sneaky number eight crossed the line.
You have no one to blame but yourself number eight – we could have stayed the course, continued along the path of mutual respect and tolerance. You had to strut your stuff, get in my face and rock the boat. Now I have to hire an exterminator; at the very least, purchase your death in a spray can, insecticidal bomb or nasty trap. I wish you could understand how this breaks my heart – almost all Black Widows one – seven were captured and released outside. My sincerest apologies to number five or maybe six – you caught me at a bad moment – your stomping was merely a reflex. Number one was forced to live in a jar for far too long simply because you are handsome arachnids.
Prior to this evenings encounter with number eight I was prepared to share my house; the last thing I wanted was a spider war. You forced my hand number eight; I’m sorry to inform you – I know where you live, I saw you sneaking into the wall socket when you thought I was otherwise occupied. You’ve ruined things for everyone – why did you have to be so sneaky?
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.