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Arachnicidal Mania



by Ruth Minshull


          Most of the time I’m a relatively harmless person, not given to violence.  I certainly don’t approve of needless cruelty to animals or any living things.  Well, hardly any living things.  One big exception is spiders.

          Long ago I tried to make a pact with them.  “You can have the whole outdoors,” I told them, “if you will just leave me alone in my own home.” 

          But they are greedy; they want the entire world.

          Now I know, with the thinking part of my brain, that a spider won’t hurt me–at least not the kind we have around my part of the country.  Nevertheless I simply don’t care for the personality of spiders.  They are silent, sneaky varmints given to sudden appearances on my arm, dangling in front of my face or scooting across my bed.  It’s nothing personal; I wouldn’t like any creature with those tendencies.

          Different kinds of spiders live in the various parts of my house.  The family that took up residence in my bedroom are rather small, black and white.  When I’m not too tired, I count them on my ceiling before I go to sleep.  I will tolerate six.  That’s my cutoff point.  If there are more than that, I go after them.  I figure with that many in one place, they could be amassing for a hostile takeover during the night.

          The run-of-the-mill black jobbies hang out in the living room, the television room, the laundry room and two of the other bedrooms.  They don’t bother me much.

          One bathroom is inhabited by a much larger gray spider, but the kitchen has the biggest ones of all.  They’re huge, hairy and beige.  They dart very fast (They’ve probably been nipping the cooking sherry.) whereas most of the others are rather lethargic.

          I off them in a variety of ways.  When I have a large number of them on the ceiling, I do them with a vacuum cleaner hose.  Singles I usually bat with a shoe or some other handy weapon.  The danglers I try to catch with a damp tissue.

          When I find one in the bathtub I wash him down the drain with a few cups of water.  I close the stopper and run a gallon or two of water.  Then I open the stopper.  This makes sure the creature is flushed down.  You have to watch them because they tend to roll up in a ball making themselves almost invisible.  Furthermore, they can survive humungus floods–thus the flushing. 

          If they’re crawling around the bathroom, I grab them with a Kleenex and throw them in the toilet.  You  have to flush it right away.  I’ve seen them get over to the edge and crawl right out of there.

          Once when I went into the bathroom in the middle of the night, I glanced over at the louvered slats of the linen closet and saw a giant spider.  This baby was about the size of a silver dollar and was wrapped around an entire slat.  I got the vacuum cleaner and went after him with the hose attachment.  At first he clung to the slat so tightly that he wouldn’t come off.  Finally he let go but then he hung on to the outside of the vacuum tube.  I couldn’t believe the strength of that varmint.  Eventually he let go.  But, on the off chance that he might revive and attempt an escape, I plugged the end of the hose with a wad of paper toweling before I went back to bed.

          I heard somewhere that one spider can produce 900 offspring in a year. 

That fact, and my middle-of-the-night encounter with this behemoth of all spiders, convinced me that I should, in the future, do away with every one I encountered–large or small.  It’s probably quite natural to get all misty-eyed when you look at a little baby arachnid and think, “It’s so tiny and harmless.” 

          Now I look at it and realize that within a day or two that innocent looking critter will be fornicating with a relative, and one of them will immediately lay 100 eggs.  In a week or two the new offspring will be committing incest with their first cousins.

          You can readily see that if I relaxed my vigilance for any length of time, they would fill up the place and I’d have to move out.

          So I keep up my battle.  I’m not winning, I know that.  They obviously can propagate faster than I can kill, but I won’t surrender.


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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull




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