Thursday, October 30, 2014

Come Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly

It turns out not only are my chosen pets codependent, my involuntary pets are as well.

I have been dubbed the Spider Whisperer by several of my colleagues due to my strange and ridiculous claim that I can speak to spiders and they actually listen to me.  I have apparently inherited this trait from my mother since I have recently discovered that she has her own little eight-legged friend living in her Whirlpool who she calls "Bubala."  And she talks to Bubala like a pet.

My mother and I are strange creatures.

I have stood by my claim to communicate with spiders ever since the year I shared an apartment with my friend Stuart who was terrified of them.  He would squash them first and ask questions later.  What he did not know was that a little house spider shared quarters with us for the entire year, living in a web she spun above the door.  I never told Stuart and the spider never showed her face when he was home.  He spent a lot of time socializing and partying about town while I stayed home and watched TV or read.  In the evenings, the spider would come down out of her hiding spot and hang out in the middle of the carpet.  Just hang.  We'd hang together.  Around eleven o'clock I'd tell her, "It's almost eleven.  Stuart's going to be home soon so you might want to disappear."

I kid you not, she would.  Like a little magician's assistant.

When I moved to Wyoming it turned out that tiny jumping spiders enjoy my townhouse as much as I do.  Through the years they would hang out with me in the kitchen while I cooked or did the dishes and if I mentioned that they were getting too close to the sink, they would hop off and hang out elsewhere.  I trapped the larger of their brethern and transplanted them to the garden.  I might not have a problem with spiders but that doesn't mean I want some monstrosity capable of making a meal of one of my cats sharing my living room.

I had trouble dealing with my ex-boyfriend's tarantula, Scary Alice, at first, but after awhile she and I became great friends.  We had coffee and chats in the morning when the ex took a shower.  Alice would actually come out of her house and sit in the corner of her terrarium and hang out.  I told her her master was an idiot and she definitely seemed to agree.  She liked loud music and whenever we turned the bass up really loud she would come out of her house and put her front paws up on the glass.  My ex said they like the vibrations and maybe that's why spiders listen to me.  They just like the sound of my voice.

I have to say, I think I might miss Scary Alice more than I miss my ex, even if he was the love of my life.

Two weeks ago, before I left for my trip to Texas, I was in the kitchen washing my dishes.  The blinds were drawn over the window in front of me and I happened to look up.  A huge silhouette of something out of a B horror movie splashed across the window and I very nearly dropped the dish I was washing.  I yanked the cord to pull the blinds up expecting the worse and sitting calmly on the screen outside the window glass was a rather pretty little spider.  The sun shining through the blinds had blown it up to about fifty times its normal size but the reality was just a fly-sized beast hanging out between the glass and screen.  I have no idea how he got in there but I kept the window closed just in case he decided to move in. I had to look him up on the computer because I had never seen such a spider.  He had a nice shape, like a tarantula, but smaller, was all black, and had a pretty orange dot in the middle of his back.  He was not a black widow - I know what those look like and he was the wrong shape.  He was larger than the tiny jumpers I'm used to sharing my space with.  It turns out he was a Bold Jumping Spider and he was a male because they have the orange dots and bright green fangs.  As I said, rather a pretty little creature, but I still didn't want him in my house.

A week later I came home to a remodeled kitchen and four very angry pets.  They like the Cowboy but whenever I leave them with him, he fixes stuff and changes stuff and they don't like that so much.  I also came home to a new pet.  Sitting on my newly remodeled counter, smack dab in the middle of the white tile as if showing off his colors, was Mr. Bold Jumping Spider in all his orange, green, and black glory.  He was just hanging out like, "Yo, what's up?  Thought I'd move in while you were gone.  Come on over, have a cup of coffee."

Now I have no problem with spiders, even the black widows and the brown recluses, but I don't really want to go to bed at night knowing something of that size is hanging out in the kitchen.  Granted he wasn't as large as the spiderzilla I came home to one late night that was very easily larger than Scary Alice and very obviously a wolf spider, but still.  I like spiders but I have my limits. And yes, Bold Jumpers are one hundred percent harmless and even if they do bite a human it won't do any damage.  But Mr. Bold Jumping Spider was out of here.  I had a frank chat with him about how he couldn't stay.  He didn't like that and jumped in the sink.  I panicked thinking he was going to drown himself in the drain and grabbed my espresso glass to drop on top of him.  He hopped around in the sink a bit more and I kept thinking this guy is going to come flying at my face, all green fangs and indignation at my unwillingness to allow him to move in.  Finally I got the espresso glass on him and moved a piece of paper under him. 

A primitive but effective spider catching method.  It has worked many times in my favor.

I scooped up Mr. Bold Jumper - now christened "Fred" - the espresso glass, and paper all in one fell swoop and swept them outside where Fred was released in the garden.

I hope he's happy there as it is a lovely garden full of stuff for a guy like him to munch on.  He might even find a girlfriend, though I hope not too soon as the females of his kind rather enjoy biting the heads off their mates.  However, I have no doubt that he will probably find his way back in the house since he somehow already managed it once.

Perhaps Fred and Bubala can start a club.


Interesting fact I just learned from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, Entomolgy Department:  "The chances of being bitten by P. audax are slim to none. These spiders are difficult for collectors to catch, and they appear fearful of humans."

Fred had no fear of me.  None.  And I let him slip through my fingers!  There are some very irritated and angry arachnid collectors fuming at this very moment....







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