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August 14, 2013 / Rae Spencer

Venom in the Yard (Arachnophobia Alert!)

Black Widow Aug 14

Last summer brought dozens of black widow spiders to the yard. (For more about our encounters last summer, see here, here, and here.) I suppose the spiders had been in the yard all along, without our noticing them, but I felt a sense of responsibility once I knew they were there. We killed the ones we found (and destroyed their eggs) and began eliminating the spiders’ hiding places.

Black Widow Aug 14

We’ve found far fewer black widow spiders this year. Did our efforts last summer make a difference? Did the longer, colder winter help?

Black Widow Aug 14

Perhaps the population isn’t smaller at all this summer, only better hidden. Much better hidden, if that is the case, because I am diligent about looking for their webs as I work in the yard.

Black Widow Aug 14

I always feel a twinge of regret when I kill the spiders, because I don’t like killing anything. But I would feel even worse if I left them to multiply and spread into our neighbors’ yards. What do you think? Would you kill them, if they were in your yard? Is there a better solution?

8 Comments

  1. sarahremy / Aug 15 2013 12:08 AM

    Yikes. When I lived in VA we had plenty of Black Widows. Here in the high desert it’s more of a brown recluse arachnophobia. They’re in my basement. Waiting to eat small children and big pets.

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 15 2013 12:59 PM

      I haven’t found any brown recluse spiders in our yard or house, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t here. Maybe I’m better off not knowing… 🙂

  2. jeanryan1 / Aug 15 2013 8:23 AM

    That’s a tough question. I avoid killing spiders in general, but in the case of poisonous spiders I suppose we must protect ourselves. I realize how difficult this is. We should not take any life lightly. Mindfulness is how we stay wise and compassionate.

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 15 2013 12:57 PM

      “Mindfulness is how we stay wise and compassionate.” I love that!

  3. Sharon Poch / Aug 15 2013 4:55 PM

    Rae, you have taught me so much about the natural world, and, while I would hesitate to eliminate most living creatures, the severe reactions and suffering that these spiders cause in humans overrides my inclination to let them be. I, too, love jeanryan1’s comment.

  4. Random Acts of Writing / Aug 15 2013 7:37 PM

    I would have to move. : (

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 15 2013 9:30 PM

      🙂 I have to confess that I thought about it…

  5. Angela / Aug 17 2013 10:14 PM

    I don’t ever like to kill anything in my yard either, Rae. But we have boatloads of black and brown widows and they are so venomous. I do kill them when I find them simply because I want my yard safe for my family and guests. Widows tend to lurk in dark places and under edges where you put your hands or where you sit. I’d hate for anyone — especially me — to have an emergency due to being bit by one of these. We were told by a docent at the local nature center that the brown widows (travelled to CA by way of Florida) are more poisonous than a rattlesnake. I allow other spiders to thrive, however, and though I don’t want them too close have a fondness for orb spiders and jumping spiders, of which we seem to have extra this year. Mindfulness, as Jean says above, is essential, no matter what one decides to do….. great pics, though they gave me chills!

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