It’s Halloween and there are fake spiders everywhere.
Many of you know I do not care for spiders. It’s not personal vendetta against the arachnid family, as I’m fully aware spiders perform an important role in the food chain – it’s more of an instinctual, automatic response to something my ancestors must have been deathly afraid of.
I spent several amazing months in New Zealand and Australia in the early 1990′s. While the only danger I was exposed to in NZ was getting run over by a trolley in Auckland or getting pooped on by one of the dairy cows I was determined to milk (I stayed at a friend’s dairy farm and had to earn my keep), I came perilously close to a rather poisonous spider during my stay in Australia.
This little sucker was lurking behind the toilet in the house I was staying in:
Relatively small in size, Australia’s Redback spider packs a potentially lethal bite (there have been no reported deaths since the redback anti-venom became available in the 1950′s), so between a room mate and I, and with the clever use of a broom, a shoe and a mop, we were able to dispatch the spider and make the bathroom safe.
Then there was this guy who clattered through the aluminum blinds in my bedroom:
It was like one of those movies where the character does the one thing they shouldn’t (open a door, go into the basement, answer the phone) and ends up getting killed. Laying there in the sweltering heat of an Australian night and listening for the quiet background music that accompanies horror films, I wondered what in the heck had just climbed in the window.
There was no music (good) but there was the occasional light tap-tap of something moving on the blinds (not good). I flicked the light on, and there, perched between two aluminum slats with enough substance to bend them apart, was a Huntsman spider.
Even though it only took a short time for my vocal chords to recover from the resulting frantic hootenanny, I’m sure my long-ago roommates are still deaf.
Do you see the size of that thing? The next photo is appropriate…but I digress…
I did a bit of research and found Huntsman spiders are not poisonous in the spider-kills-humans-movie sort of way, but I didn’t know that at the time. None of my roommates would lend a hand, so I had to trap it by myself. Killing it was not an option, as it was really too big and I’m sure I would have fainted at the mess. Besides, I had a tiny amount of respect for such an impressively large creature, even if it did make the hair on the back of neck stand up.
So between me and myself, and with the clever use of a dustpan, a beer mug and a piece of cardboard, I was able to trap Mr. Huntsman (who was very fleet of foot) and relocate him to the garden. The beer mug was almost relocated to the garden as well, after the spider clung to the inside of it as I tried to dislodge it. It would have been a waste of a good stein, so it was a bit of a relief when the spider released its hold and vacated to a less hostile environment.
This fear of spiders carries over to today. I’ve been spider-webbed many times while out tracking with PSD Hondo, and while I always carry on, it’s usually with a brief thought as to where on my head/in my hair the displaced web-resident is.
Now, on Halloween night, there are fake spiders and cob webs everywhere, and the ones perched by our front door give me the heebie-jeebies.
Hopefully, not to the trick-or-treaters!
Have a fun and safe night.