Spider 0

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by K. Vera (IT: Software Artist)

Everyone is afraid of something. My mom is afraid of roaches, and jumps up on the couch and screams and throws things when she sees one. I am afraid of sharks and won’t go in the ocean past my knees, and only then when it is completely clear and I can see everything approaching from all directions. My sister Lori is afraid of spiders. If she sees one in her bedroom she will sleep on the couch for a month.

But when I told the kids I would be writing stories for a blog and asked if they had any ideas, they said, “The spiders. You totally have to tell the story about the spiders.”

So be warned. This story is about spiders.

I actually have a healthy respect for spiders, mostly because they eat ants, my tiny little nemeses. They also help control other annoying pests like flies, moths, roaches, and mosquitos. So when I spot an occasional spider in the house, I usually capture it and release it outside with a “Go get ‘em, buddy.”

I was never tempted to keep a spider as a pet until my mother and son captured a spider with her egg sack. “Hey, that’s cool.” I told him. “Can I keep it,” he asked? “You’ll have to keep it outside,” I told him.

We put the jar in the front garden, placed some crushed ants inside, and poked some holes in the lid. We researched spiders on the Internet, and believed it was a wolf spider. I remember her as Spider 0.

A few days later she was dead, and her eggs had hatched. We expected to find a jar of baby spiders happily eating crushed ants. My intention was to keep them just long enough for my son to appreciate the cycle of life and then release them back into the wild. What we hadn’t realized is that baby spiders are nearly microscopic.

All the babies escaped through the holes in the lid.

I noted that the jar was next to an air vent leading to the crawl space under the house.

“Darn,” I thought.

My son ran in the house excitedly yelling that all the baby spiders had hatched and escaped. My stepdaughters, who are both terrified of spiders, were not happy.

Carlos walked outside and examined the jar. He also noted the proximity to the vent and frowned at me.

“Double darn,” I thought.

Over the next few weeks we spotted an occasional baby spider in the house. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought. Full-grown wolf spiders are creepy, even to me, but the babies seemed pretty innocuous.

Until one day when Carlos called me into the girls’ room and directed my attention to the ceiling. I remember there being fewer than a dozen spiders there. My youngest stepdaughter remembers them in the hundreds. Carlos says there were more than ten on the ceiling, but there were more on the walls and in the carpet.

“That’s interesting,” I said. “I wonder why they all came in here.”

The spiders would have had to crawl under the house, past the kitchen, dining area, and living room to get into the girls’ room. But the girls didn’t find that interesting. They were actually a little mad.

“It’s probably because you eat in your room,” I said. “I bet you have ants.”

They glared at me.

“At least you did have ants,” I added. “Now you have spiders.”

I did see the problem, just wasn’t sure what to do about it. We couldn’t catch them all, and even the tried-and-true-wad-of-tissue-paper approach had some logistical difficulties given the numbers.

Carlos put his hands on his hips. This is what we call his power pose. It communicates to everyone that he is about to take over and we aren’t going to like it.

He told the girls to sleep on the couch and sent me out of the room.

“What are you going to do?” I asked, feeling a little sorry for the spiders.

“I’ll do what needs to be done,” he said.

When we were gone, he shot all the spiders down with Raid and then vacuumed the floor.

HAH! I would have never thought of that. Seriously.

Despite the spider slaughter, we suspected there were quite a few survivors. For one thing, we didn’t have a problem with ants for about five years.

For another, we occasionally spotted descendants of Spider 0. If I saw it first, I discreetly moved it outside. When the kids or Carlos saw it, I tried to convince them to have mercy.

“Spiders eat ants…” I told them.

But Carlos would put his hands on his hips, and I would sigh and leave the room, unwilling to watch the murder of one of God’s fine creatures.

“Just wait until the ants come back,” I called out. “You’ll want the spiders then!”

We had our first major ant invasion last weekend. And I put my hands on my hips and said, “See. I told you. Respect the spiders.”

I just hope no one ever gives my kids a pregnant shark.

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