Monday, April 19, 2004

Spider season returns

Two nights ago the lightning bugs reappeared after their long winter hiatus. Last night another less joy-inducing arthropod companion also reappeared after its hibernal slumber. I was sitting at this very desk, felt the light touch of something gently crawling across my hand, moved gently to take a look and sure enough...

Fully grown male brown recluse spider strolling peacefully over my unprotected flesh.

This is hardly something surprising, as the brown recluse is the most common spider in these old Tennessee houses. On the plus side, they are docile, slow, and reclusive, biting under only severe provocation and spending most of their time inside walls, under floors, and behind clutter. I often suspect that the surprisingly low population of cockroaches around here is because all the brown recluses eat them! I once saw a brown recluse eating a black widow. In spite of their abundance (thousands in every house) bites are rare, and the really nasty bites are even rarer. Unfortunately, they are also fond of hiding places like clothes drawers, old shoes, pockets of jackets, and nooks within bedframes. In spite of my general respect for predators, and my resistance to wanton slaughter, I have regrettably adopted a policy of instant death to all brown recluses I find within the human living areas of the house. They can have all those dark crannies and interior spaces they love so much, but when they wander into territory shared with me and my feet and fingers I swat without mercy. Not without residual guilt, but without mercy.

I wish there was another solution, but I prefer my extremities intact and my body free of necrotizing wounds. Time to go stock up on sticky traps again.


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