A few nights after our cicada adventure, the dog and I found a black widow during our late night stroll. In fact, we found three black widows. Once I knew what to look for, how to spot their messy web-nests, I was astonished at how many there were in the yard. Astonished and horrified.
(I apologize for the poor quality of this photo. It was taken from my camera’s greatest possible zoom distance, with shaking hands and racing heart and a powerful urge to run away.)
I don’t remember being afraid of spiders, when I was a child, but I have certainly become afraid of them in my adulthood. Whenever I find a spider, my reactions range from sweaty anxiety to paralyzed terror. The closer the arachnid, the more severe my physiological response. It’s not so much a fear of being bitten as it is a shivering revulsion of all those legs and eyes.
I don’t like this part of me, this unwanted instinct to race for a broom or break out a can of insecticide. So I’m working to overcome my fear. In the process, I’ve made peace with the orb weavers and jumping spiders in my yard. I’ve even perfected a glass-and-postcard system of wolf spider relocation, for when I find them in the house.
Even so, I cannot embrace the idea of a population of venomous spiders lurking under the fence and flower-bed borders. In this case, brooms and insecticide seem reasonable. Unless there are better ways to eradicate black widows. Any ideas?