I once had a serious brown recluse infestation. A flat, cardboard glue trap designed to ensure that our cat, Sweetie, had beaten her flea problem, caught one giant brown recluse. Afterward more traps caught dozens, sometimes HUNDREDS more, of all sizes all over the room. Needless to say it caused nightmares and paranoia, but, believe it or not, after a while I got used to them. I’d sit in the floor, playing guitar or drawing, and see one creep by. I’d smash the life out of it, and then go right back to business as usual. I have since traded my brown recluse infestation with a cellar spider infestation. They EAT brown recluses but are harmless to people so I say it’s a fair, natural, “circle of life” kind of trade.
Spiders creep people out. Often the reasons for this are “they have too many legs,” or “too many eyes,” or “they’re dangerous.” Mostly I think it’s because they’re an unseen threat, we usually only notice them if something is wrong, like we’re bitten or we see them in an unusual are like a bedroom or kitchen. I think of it this way: I had hundreds of brown recluses stuck to glue traps. I only ever saw 20 or so running loose alive. As far as I know I was never bitten and who knows how many were actually roaming around that I DIDN’T see and weren’t in the traps. So maybe my infestation was good for me, it got me accustomed to them and taught me a bit about fear.
It gave me a new spider policy: I bring them no harm, no matter how dangerous they may be, so long as they’re outside. I’ve even released a brown recluse that a friend asked me to identify, she brought him to me in a cup and I felt if I killed her it would feel like executing a prisoner of war…somehow just wrong… If they are inside I typically bring them no harm if they are harmless. Woe to the poor brown recluse that staggers through my defenses into my room now though…dangerous ones in my space I treat like invaders…
But most people hate spiders, even those outside. During my vacation the first week of August I left my home and came across her:
She built her web at the end of our carport and I immediately recognized her as a gold and black, or yellow and black, garden spider. I knew she was harmless and her web was so impressive I implored everyone in the house to let her be. Everyone wholeheartedly agreed and, despite the fact that she was initially considered creepy by some, she has grown on us. She was named “Goldie” and we put up a sign to warn package delivery services to not destroy her web or bring her any harm.
Every morning we check her web, see if she’s caught any food (it’s usually in tatters from the moths and other insects she’s skewered) and every now and then she’s draining some poor meal (I still feel for the eaten bugs…what a way to go..)
Goldie has become kind of an outside pet. We are pleased to see she’s eating well (I’ve tried to offer up some superworms which unfortunately flew straight through her web), we cheered when she built not one but TWO massive egg sacs, but we lament that, despite the safety of her location from birds, she will not likely find a mate in the carport…
Goldie the spider changed the hearts and minds of many around here who feared or disliked spiders. The fear of spiders is largely irrational; as are most fears. Remember a world without spiders is a world full of cockroaches, moths, and flies! And I for one am much happier with these lovely little killers out there.
Here’s a video of Goldie spinning her web. Forgive the raw version of it I took it in a rush THIS morning and haven’t had time to edit it yet. I had never before seen her doing this and was pretty excited to get it on video at all!