I would not call myself particularly afraid of spiders. I don’t like them in my house, and I certainly don’t want them crawling on me, but if I see them I can generally leave them alone and not freak out about it. I give them their space.
I have been on a black widow murdering spree, but I’ve found many other spiders in my yard and I leave them be. They aren’t a danger to my family and they are a part of the ecosystem. But black widows are dangerous and they love the valley.
I have been happily cleaning up my patio while Isobel has been contentedly playing in the backyard each evening. After I get home from work she grabs her shoes asks to go “outside” and we spend about two hours playing on the patio. It’s been lovely.
Wednesday was like any other day. We were outside and Isobel was holding an imaginary conversation with her bunny. She wanted to lie on the picnic blanket which had been stored outside. I obliged.
When it was time to go inside and make dinner, Isobel was having so much fun on the blanket she didn’t want to go in. She was happy enough to go inside, though, if the blanket came with her. I gave it a good shake to loosen any collected debris and we went inside.
We had been playing inside for nearly an hour before it happened. The black widow was hiding in the blanket. And it was pissed.
I don’t know when or how it got in there since we use this blanket so often. I don’t know what made it decide to choose that exact moment to attack. I don’t know why it chose me and not my baby. But I am so, so grateful it did. I would gladly take a spider bite for her. Any spider bite.
Isobel and I were sitting on the blanket playing together in front of the TV. (Top Chef finale!) Zorro was with us. The blanket was in a pile as opposed to being all stretched out. Isobel prefers a pile because she likes to nest in it and cover her baby in its voluminous folds.
I was lying down on the blanket near her when suddenly, the widow charged out from the blanket and ran across it heading straight for me. It crawled right up my hand and onto my wrist. I didn’t scream. I didn’t flip out. My thought process became as fast as lighting.
Get it off.
Get the baby and the cat away.
Kill it. Kill it. Kill it.
In one movement I shoved Isobel and Zorro off the blanket as I flung it off my arm. I brought the folds of the blanket together on the spider as hard as I could. I crushed it and I rubbed it. Poor Isobel is not used to such rough treatment from me and started crying. I gathered up the blanket and threw it on the front porch, then searched Isobel’s body for the telltale target-shaped mark that would mean she had been bitten.
She had not.
And as far as I could tell, I had not, although I must have come very close.
Later in the evening, after Isobel was tucked safely in bed, I went to examine the blanket, the crushed spider, and take photos. To be fair, I was guessing that it was a black widow. I am very familiar with them but the whole incident happened very quickly and I didn’t slow down to confirm anything. I listened to my gut.
I carefully unfolded the blanket in the weak yellow porch light and there she was – shiny and black and full of poison. The dominatrix of spiders. The widow. I leaned in and snapped a few photos.
Slowly she started to writhe.
I crushed her without fear this time and when I was done, so was the spider.
There was not much left of her.
Before this incident I had done some reading up on black widows as they are one of the last natural predatory dangers to us in my area, aside from gangbangers with pit bulls and gigantic pickups with trucknuts. Here’s what I learned.
You may remember from earlier complaints that we have somewhat of a black widow problem.
Black widows are common in the hot, dry areas of California, such as exactly where my home is located. And since our house was vacant for quite some time before we moved in, the property developed a nasty, unchecked widow problem. I found them everywhere, multiple times a day, and they were HUGE. Clearly I need to find out more about them for Isobel’s sake.
I decided to read up a bit on black widows since they are so common and technically they are one of the only threats in our area. One should be familiar with the threats in one’s area, yes? Other local threats include crooked politicians, mumbling tweakers, gang bangers and the Local Royalty.
I found out some interesting things about them, such as:
- Females do not usually eat their unsuspecting mates. It’s the exception to the rule. Often times he ends up living off the food she traps in her web, the freeloader. (Murder one husband and you’re branded a ‘black window’ for life. Sheesh.)
- Males are small and brownish with fangs too small to be a danger to humans.
- They have the GALL to frequently attack and kill CATS. Those BASTARDS. (Although probably the cats started it. STILL.)
- Although they may have an undue bad reputation regarding husband-murdering, they are still JERKS but for different reasons.
- Black widows are more venomous than rattlesnakes, but significantly less dangerous: no one has died of a black widow bite in over ten years.
- In looking for natural pest control I wanted to see if there were any creatures I could add to my habitat that would control the problem via The Circle of Life. But the natural enemy of the black widow is a mud dauber wasp. A MOTHERFUCKING WASP. THAT IS NOT COOL, NATURE. NOT COOL.
- Chickens love to eat black widows, so look for a flock of chickens in my yard soon. They will be rigtht next to my guard llamas.
Black widows are one of the main reasons I’m cleaning up my backyard. They love to hang out in secluded spaces. I’m going to sweep the hell out of my patio in the hopes that they will move somewhere else. I’m mostly worried for Isobel as black widow bites are especially dangerous to small young children.
Now, I’m off to see if chickens are also effective against crooked politicians.