Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Black Widows

There's no way I'm going to post a picture of a black widow spider. I saw more than enough today.

A little over a week ago, I received a notice telling me I had two weeks to mow my weeds or I'd be fined (I have more weeds than grass). I hate mowing so much that I always wait until I get the notice before I do it again.

Mowing means that I have to get the weed-eater out of the shed, where spiders live unmolested much of the time. One time a year or two ago, I opened the shed doors and saw two black widows hanging on a web slung between the shed wall and my bicycle tire. Yuck! I went in the house and grabbed the Raid, but when I came back, one of the spiders had disappeared, so I doused the other one until it stopped moving.

Today when I opened the shed, I saw a suspiciously similar-looking web from the bicycle tire to the shed. But the spider on it was a daddy long-legs. Harmless. I did my usual routine of swinging the broom all around the inside of the shed to knock down any stealth spiderwebs, as well as the un-stealth webs. Then I noticed a small, round beige thing on the daddy long-legs web that could have been a seed pod but might have been an egg sac for spiders, so I hooked it on the broom and smashed it to bits on the cement.

The birthday present my daughter gave me last year (which I couldn't hang on the wall while my house was for sale--no personal items on display) was in the shed, protected by an old mattress pad. I picked it up by the mattress pad and pulled it out, leaning it against the shed, when I noticed a fat, shiny black widow sitting on the bottom part of the mattress pad. I stomped on it and left a brown smudge of spider guts on the white pad. Shudder! The mattress pad went in the trash.

Next was the weed-eater. I got it out and swept off the base, which had a couple webs on it. With it lying on its side, I swept out the underneath side as well, then swept the broom around on the cement to get off as many of the spiderwebs as I could. That's when another black widow came crawling out of the underside of the weed-eater--where I was about to stick my hands to pull out some of the string!

I stomped on that one too.

After that it went well, spider-wise. I weed-eatered, stopping frequently to pull out more string, because it was near the end, and the line was wrapped all over itself in the spool. I went off to Home Depot to get a replacement spool, and after I put it in, I could do the bump-button method of letting out more string. Perfect!

Until I bumped for more string and the shaft of the weed-eater broke in two. With at least a third of the yard still to go.

But right at that time, the maintenance guy was going by, so I asked him if he could finish the job--for a fee, of course. He doesn't speak much English, so we had a bit of a time making sure we understood each other. He swept his arm around toward all the weeds and said, "¿Todos?"

I said yes and showed him the little bit around the back corner of the house. He said he couldn't get to it until Saturday--"Mucho trabajo." I even knew what he meant.

So that was that. I pulled out my almost-new spool of string and threw the rest of the weed-eater in the trash, then put everything away--in the shed--until I need it again the next time they leave me the "Mow your weeds" memo.

Tonight I went off to a meeting, and when I was pulling back into my driveway afterwards, I saw a dark shape where I usually don't see one. I had seen something like it a night or two ago, but there wasn't anything there today when I was doing all the yard work. So I backed up until the headlights lit it up, and it was a spiderweb with a shiny, dark spot in the middle.

I parked, went in the house for the can of Raid and the broom, and came back out armed for trouble. I sprayed the spider until it was in a puddle of poison, writhing in agony. Then I came back in the house and locked the door. Just in case.


Christina said...

Okay, the decision about whether to stay or move....made!

Don't even worry about selling the house, just give it to the spiders as a peace offering, back away slowly (while simultaneously looking every direction just in case they are planning an ambush) and then drive like the wind!

Oh wait, it's possible that the sneaky arachnids have taken over the car too. Run....run and never look back.

When you arrive at your new-found home, burn your clothes. (Spiders are sneaky and nefarious, it's possible they've laid eggs.) Shower three, maybe four times and then, only then might you be truly safe.

I'm glad you're safe...and that you didn't post pictures.

SkyePuppy said...


An excellent suggestion. I'm pulling on my running shoes even as we speak...

I was married for a very long time to a man who liked bugs and kept a Field Guide to Spiders lying around the house. It had pictures of spiders all over the cover, including a black widow and this big, hairy freak of a spider that I hope NEVER to encounter in person. If I had to move the book at all, I picked it up by the corner, where there were no pictures I could accidentally touch. I hated that book.

But the one good thing (and there is only one) from that is that I became able to recognize a black widow from its silhouette, without needing to verify the hourglass on the underside. You almost never get that chance.

Black widows live everywhere in Southern California where there is darkness. So maybe I'll stay put after all...

janice said...

I'm with Christina, I'd be outta there toot-sweet! Yuk!

ChuckL said...

Excellent post. My sentiments toward arachnids match yours. I don't even want to peruse pictures of them.

Nevertheless, I hope no one official reads your blog. Aren't black widows, like every other living thing except humans & Marines endangered species? I recall training time in the field on Camp Pendleton and being briefed that I would get in less trouble for shooting a Marine than a deer or a rattlnesnake!

SkyePuppy said...


Black widows are not yet endangered. Except by the likes of me.

And I killed a fourth one the next night. It was underneath the electric meter. Raid is my friend!