It Lurks Above

So, today’s post was going to be about graduation and chrysalises (chrysali?) opening and little birds leaving nests, but I have bigger topics than blah-blah-blah life transitions. At a time when there are many very important things happening, I happen to be  preoccupied with spiders. I haven’t wanted to say anything before because if people associate you with the word “infestation” or “pestilence” or “nest of arachnoid horrors” they don’t want to visit anymore, but things aren’t improving as I’d hoped, and I can’t keep walking around pretending it is all okay. No, every morning I walk around like this:

No, Mom, I couldn't put on lipstick for the photo. Couldn't.

No, Mom, I couldn’t put on lipstick or a little blush for this photo. Or comb my hair. Or change out of my bathrobe. Well, I  could have done one or more of those things, but obviously, I didn’t.

I walk around like this searching for long legged yellow spiders, about three quarters of an inch across (including appendages.) They prefer the ceiling, but I have found them dangling in the air right in front of my face, and on the countertop six inches from where I have set down my coffee. I have seen them skittering manically and sitting still as death. Deceptively still, because they are rarely dead. The skittering begins after I attack them with my weapon of choice: a grabber clutching a paper towel. If I am lucky and hit it just right, I’ll squish it immediately and usually messily, but I am more likely to alarm it (hence the skittering) and knock it loose, so it falls to the floor (more skittering) or on me (screaming and gesticulating–me, not the spider.) My secondary weapon is the vacuum cleaner with the upholstery attachment on the long extension. This was great at first, because the spider rarely ran or fell, but we have a universal vac that sucks everything into a container in the basement and I have begun having nightmares about what is waiting for me down there. That thing is going to have to be emptied someday. Someday soon.

It wasn’t always like this. The first year we had these spiders I saw one and I thought, Okay, spiders are good, they eat other insects and they rarely cause harm. As long as you aren’t ON me or NEAR me or ON STUFF I TOUCH, I can live with you, Mr. Spider. But it wasn’t just one spider, it never is. I read once that on Earth, you are rarely more than a few meters from a spider. Disturbing, I thought, but I can handle that. Most of those have to be inside the walls or otherwise concealing themselves. It really is only the spiders I see that bother me. Well, the ones I see AND the ones biding their time in my vacuum container plotting their revenge. Once I realized that my friend Mr. Singular Spider had broken our truce by actually being multiple spiders, I attempted catch and release. With terrible results. Spiders are quite fragile, you know? You might try to trap one under a jar and slide a piece of cardboard in to contain it, but unspeakable things will happen and you will end up killing it anyway, probably out of mercy and with revulsion at the monster you yourself have become. Or that might be just me. Spider bombs! my neighbor says. Best thing! Probably yes, they are. I don’t know enough about them. They are probably very benign to everything except spiders and aren’t really the clouds of death I imagine settling on my laptop, dishes, doorknobs and bedding. Also, a spider who survives a spider bomb would not under any circumstances mutate into a super spider, therefore I would never have to worry about that. Nope.

So now every morning I walk the house, hunting spiders, apologizing to every single one I kill, obsessing over whether its kin are watching and how they feel about the whole spectacle, worrying about that vacuum container that I now imagine is pulsing with retribution. And then I move on to the gauzy egg sacs, hidden at the edge of the ceiling, looking for all the world like just another bead of popcorn and holding hundreds more skittering, web-spinning, tickly-legged vermin.  These things are a lesson on  the wages of the sin of procrastination. Have you put off doing a term paper until the last minute? Ignored a dish of leftovers in the fridge until it is unrecognizable? These are nothing compared to finding that an egg sac you meant to clean up has disgorged its contents and it is only a matter of time before you will be swimming in the things. Frankly, I am wasting valuable time right now writing about it. Back to the front lines, for despite my trepidation, this is war. Until one of them pulls a Charlotte and spins me a surrender message indicating their retreat I will be annihilating every one of them I can reach. They can keep their business outside, and, okay,  I may turn a blind eye in my garage, but that is where I draw the line. NOT in MY HOUSE.

16 thoughts on “It Lurks Above

  1. sj

    I am laughing so hard. I love that picture AND this post!

    My younger boys always call for the 13y/o to catch and release, but if no one is around, I will totally squish those suckers. I’m cool with them as long as they stay out of my sight. Once you’re seen, though, it’s over.

    1. Elvira

      Allie – There is a giant centipede in my shwoer right now, preventing me from getting clean. I thought to myself while I had a little stare down with him, “What Would Allie Do”? Much like wwjd, but better. Anyways, I wasn’t exactly sure what your next step would be, though I imagined it involved not shwoering, or entering the bathroom again. I might have to pee outside in the woods much like you did with the closet skeleton… What action do you suggest?

  2. sillyliss

    Oh my word. While the spiders really, really, REALLY freak me out, dangling in front of you, this post somehow made me giggle. How did you take something so icky and make it so funny? Is it because I am not living amongst you and your soon-to-be super-spiders?

    We have a sugar ant problem. Or what my husband likes to call: not a problem at all. Ugh.

      1. lynnettedobberpuhl Post author

        I went to empty the container (waited til my husband got home–not sure how I thought that would help) and sure enough, one (not the swarms I feared) crawled out. I was surprised to see it was a wheaty shade of beige. I guess on my white ceiling they looked more yellow…so not unusually spideriffic, just the normal amount. Which I think we can agree is more than enough!

    1. lynnettedobberpuhl Post author

      Sugar ants ARE a problem!! They are grody! I had some one year and tried to off them with diatomaceous earth, which is made up of tiny razor sharp diatoms that are savagely lethal to little ants, but soft as cornstarch to people. I thought this would be preferable to chemicals, but it washes away and I couldn’t stop worrying about mutilated insects (seems to be a theme of mine.) We sprayed the deck footings we figured they were climbing to get in and that was the end of them. I don’t know if that will help you, but be assured I am on your side!

  3. Amy

    Funny! Freaky! Guess I know what I’ll be dreaming about tonight. Or should I say nightmaring about? Why isn’t that cat of yours any help?! Or aren’t spiders enough of a challenge? Had an ant issue a couple weeks ago – they’re probably drowned out from all the rain and trying to get dry inside. Was going to get traps where they take the poison back home and kill all in the nest, but I thought I’d damage the whole food chain thing and settled for spraying Raid where they most liked to go. I think it worked…or are they now somewhere that I don’t know about? Ick.

    1. lynnettedobberpuhl Post author

      Repeat to yourself, “The Raid worked, the Raid worked, the Raid worked.”

      I like to think Catabulous is doing his part on the ones he can reach. After all, I never find spiders below countertop level. Or else they are too smart for him. Equally likely.

  4. KerBear

    So my spiderphobia is not just mine, eh? Funny. Ours are more like 1 1/2 inches long with hairy legs that make the whole floor look like it’s moving when they do (or so my brain insists). I can TOTALLY feel your angst. Snakes ok. Rodents mostly ok. Spiders not so much. Ticks REALLY not. But then, ticks are spiders with attitude in my playbook. (no, they are not related. technically.) The more you write, the more related we seem to be. Isn’t that a scary thought?!!

  5. Dicki

    I recently had shmteoing similar happen to me except my bed WAS actually full of spiders. I was about to go to sleep one night, when I saw a few tiny spiders on my blanket. I got up and looked at the foot of the bed and there were several dozen more. Then my eyes moved to the basket of freshly cleaned and folded laundry, and guess what…teaming with tiny spiders. I’m pretty sure an egg sac of baby spiders had just hatched ON my bed. Now usually, I hate killing spiders. I will take them outside or just leave them, but there were 100 baby spiders crawling all over my bed, and I wanted to go to sleep. So I spent the next hour and a half on a spider killing rampage with some tissues. I then spent the night on my futon in the next room, and washed my sheets and vacuumed very thoroughly in the morning. It was super traumatic.

  6. lahikmajoe

    One of my least favourite things: spiders.

    But here you’ve written something somehow endearing – perhaps not about the actual spiders, but I was definitely there with you on your daily hunt. Godspeed Lynette Dobberpuhl, Godspeed.


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