Sunday, February 27, 2011

Incy Wincy Spider!

I like spiders. Sorry I should correct that. I like English spiders. I don’t know if my Mom’s absurd arachnophobia acted as reverse psychology when I was growing up. She would scream and cry at the sighting of a harmless house spider and we would have to remove the offending creature from the room. As a result I have never been afraid of spiders… until I came to North Carolina.
I was given a reason to be afraid within a week of being here. After driving to the wrong community pool for a weekend, then refused admission (wrong wrist band!), we realized the green roof we could see from our garden was our pool club house – literally at the end of the garden and across the road. Gardens here have no fences so it became a daily trek across the weird grass (it is grass Jim but not as we know it) and across the road to the pool. I vaguely remember flicking my foot across my other leg in response to seeing an insect leap up and land on my calf. I might have been less casual about it had I known I would have a purple tennis ball size festering lump of pus there within a day. It stood out amongst the numerous hideous mosquito bites I had already acquired. I decided to always drive to the pool from then on. I also decided to check out spiders on the internet and was sorry when I did.
The weather in the summer is amazing - 100°F and 85% humidity brings with it some pretty weird critters. Poisonous snakes aside there are some deadly spiders. The well known one is the ‘Black Widow’. Common in these parts! We went to the fantastic and free North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and looked at one close up. There was a weird man perched by the exhibit... waiting for unsuspecting tourists. He told my then four year old son ‘See one of these and you are dead!’ My son looked at him with one of those hesitant shocked half smiles that would translate into a polite 'Oh really!' and a hasty retreat if he was an adult or a less polite ‘Fuck off, you nutter’. Instead the smile floundered and his lips turned into a nervous wail for his mommy! My son now behaves like my mother when he sees a spider. The man heckled me as we walked away, ‘they love your dark holes and fuse boxes’. I hoped he was still talking spiders. As far as I was aware I hadn’t got a spider in there but I would have to ensure better husbandry from now on!
Even more disconcerting here is the ‘Brown Reclusive’. Bites from these spiders can be deadly. Like the deadly snakes, it can be difficult to tell a Reclusive. Like Black Widows and the pattern on Copperhead snakes, they have an hour-glass shape. Boys, be warned – the hour glass shape is alluring but dangerous!!! If you see a spider out and about it may not be a reclusive, although if it refuses to engage in small talk it may be! One way to tell is they have six eyes (instead of 8)…I’ll just go get my magnifying glass.
One day at the pool a little spider was drowning. My instinct was to save it. I scooped it out and plopped it onto the side of the pool. It reared up at me waving its legs in an aggressive manor. Looking at me with its numerous eyes…too tiny to count! I should have just sqidged it like I see most Americans do. It isn’t natural for me to want to kill spiders – they eat other unsavoury critters in the house. Although judging by the insects I have seen here, spiders would have to be huge to eat them! We had resident cicadas last summer in the garage. It was deafening in there for weeks. One day at the pool my son refused to go up the steps of the waterslide. I went over to find a Praying Mantis on the hand rail. The life guard came over to move it and it flew at him. He nearly fell down the stairs. This thing was around 7 inches long. Would have taken a few spiders to munch on that!
My Hero!
I have grown to adore the little frogs that sit on the windows at night in the summer time. They come to catch the insects attracted to the house lights. They make a right racket but they eat nasty critters. So far no one has told me they are poisonous!
Spiders that are poisonous are even more worrying than snakes. They are smaller and harder to spot. I have just been on a kamikaze rummage in the garage (pronounced ga…rrrrrarrrjg ish here). We still have unpacked boxes from the UK. They might forever remain that way given the high risk of a colony of Brown Reclusives moving in. ‘Oh look – undisturbed boxes with lots of private nooks and crannies for shy types – lets set up home’. Actually –given my natural aversion to housework they might consider the whole of the house worth colonizing – they might put little signs out for their friends saying ‘Safe vacuum free zone’. My only hope is that being reclusive they live alone and have no mates!
Local advice on avoiding spider bites… Wear gloves when gardening; be careful of dark crevices in closets… blah blah blah! I say – Keep your hands in your pockets (after carefully checking them for spiders) and stay indoors armed with a hand vac! And Mom… when you come to visit, if there is a spider in your bath… don’t call me!

Please feel free to comment – you can do this anonymously if you want to!


  1. lol that was too funny. We have a frog pond in the field at the back of our house. All summer long we hear the chorus of frogs and crickets. It's music, unless you have the windows open and are trying to hear the tele. they are louder lol

  2. I had forgotton how noisy it gets until this week. The first sign of warm weather seems to have brought them out.
    A whole frog pond sounds idyllic! I wonder why they dont eat all the crickets!

  3. I am not as bad as i used to be ,but still don't like them.Just hope i don't get to see any but knowing my luck !!!!

  4. Im with Ann on the spider front, only move (British ones) them if I have too. Frogs are ok, snakes are out, being male or wimp or both!

  5. Nothing wimpy here in avoiding snakes and spiders! ...but in the uk....LoL