Season Of Spider Love


In my corner of the world spiders are considered summertime house invaders. With seasonal predictability they arrive on the promise of spring staking claim to the garden. As days lengthen we open windows and doors, inviting spiders into our homes with warm weather indifference. Canadian summers are fleeting, knowing they’ll be gone at first frost excuses occasional household spider drama.

As I write, autumn chill suggests a timely spider farewell – not so fast, this is the season of spider love.

Three species in particular, the Hobo, Barn Tunnel Weaver and “giant house spider” Eratigena Atrica reach sexual maturity in autumn. All three abandon their horizontal sheet or funnel garden webs in search of love. Just when Canadians let their guard fall with autumn leaves, harmless lovelorn spiders appear in bathtubs, basements and bedroom walls.

As spiders go they aren’t behemoth, venomous or likely to bite, all they want is a little love.Take a deep breath, stifle screams, scoop and show them the door.

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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.

RIP House Widow


On a trip to the laundry room several years ago I discovered a black widow spider. As the only family member licensed to dispatch spiders, her demise was automatic and swift. My husband protected us from snakes, spiders were my responsibility. A practical, unspoken arrangement acted upon without hesitation, quelling arachnid hysteria never bothered me. If a snake ever hissed in the house my husband would do the same. I forgave the one and only house snake in our 35 years, the garter snake he and the kids brought home in a bucket, the one they named Mrs. Slithers when she gave birth to 11 babies the following day, but that’s another story.

Soon after finding laundry room widow, many more disturbed domestic harmony. Upstairs, downstairs, bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms – black widows were becoming a problem. Some had to be executed, but only as a last resort when catch and release failed. Along the way a peculiar affinity developed for well mannered widows. Rogue spiders couldn’t be allowed to roam at will, homesteaders were another matter.

For a while “No, of course I don’t want a black widow bite”, “Yes, I’ll do something about basement widow” sandbagged rising dismay. Relax! Spiders are my job, the situation is under control!

My son broke the news. “You were sleeping…” “We saw an egg sack…” “Sprayed it with Raid…” “Got the vacuum out…” I heard myself say, you killed my spider? Then wished I could take it back because it sounded so crazy. “We can get you a pet spider” he offered with genuine sympathy. “It’s ok, I don’t want a pet spider” was spoken, “I liked that spider” wasn’t.

I couldn’t explain without sounding unbalanced, wouldn’t expect them to understand mild obsession with observing the same spider for almost 2 years. Their spiders are my snakes, I get it. RIP basement widow.

 

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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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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