Garden Thrills N' Chills

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I hate these guys. I really do.

I mean -- with a passion.

The wife that is Venus? She doesn't share my disgust. She doesn't share my fear of the BLACK WIDOW. "Live and Let Live" is the wife's motto. As long as the "living" part isn't done in her house. Heaven forbid the thought.

The spiders -- however -- can have the outside.

But for me? The Black Widow spider is something to be feared -- despised and eliminated. I'm not sure why I feel that way. I'm fortunate in that I've never been bitten by one. I know people who have -- everyone does. But it's a gardening experience that I do not want to share at this time thank you.

If you didn't notice -- the Year of 2009 was a pretty big one for Black Widow Spiders. I saw one recent television report about the emergence of the Brown Widow Spider in the Sacramento area. "It's just like the Black Widow Spider," the reporter told us. "Except the bite is twice as strong and the venom is ten times worse."

Great. Haven't found any Brown Widows where I am yet. Maybe the Black Widows will keep them out.

Despite my efforts to keep the house and yard as "spider free" as possible -- some always survive. This lucky lady did -- despite my nightly forays around the house -- armed with a flashlight and a can of RAID. I'm happy to report that I eliminated my share of Black Widows -- but somehow I missed the big MOTHER. Nope, Mother Nature did her in. A recent blast of cold weather was enough to bring her out of hiding (and I helped with a blast of RAID).

Somehow -- I missed her -- even though she was located very close to the sliding glass door. That means this plump lady got a full spring and summer to raise lots and lots of brood.


We grow them big here in North Natomas. Most of this was nothing but fertile farmland a few short years ago. The soil may have been churned up and cemented over -- but the farmland creatures who called this area home survived that intrusion. I've seen some monstrous Black Widows during my six years here -- much bigger than anything I ever witnessed while growing up on Ribier Avenue in Modesto -- or later while I was attending college or working in Fresno.

We had spiders -- yes. We even had our share of Black Widow spiders. But nothing like I've seen in North Natomas. These suckers are big. These suckers are scary.

Despite my ever vigilant efforts to eradicate this spider from the yard -- I know all too well that I didn't get them all. I got my fair share -- especially with those who built webs and homes right next to our house. But I know I missed some.

Which means the Black Widow will be back for more next summer. You can count on it.

Happy Halloween...


Fred Hoffman said...

The sole of a shoe is cheaper, and less toxic to garden good guys, than the spray from a can of Raid, which has a residual effect on any creature that walks through it later...including your cats. I only mention this because I hold you to a higher standard, Bill. Nor do I want to jeopardize any chance to have a taste from that bottle of cask strength Macallan you have.

Bill Bird said...

With all due respect Mr. Hoffman, you'll have to pry that can of RAID from my cold, dead fingers. The last time I tried stomping on Mrs. Widow -- I missed -- and she crawled on my shoe and would have crawled up my leg had I not thrown the hissy fit of all time. There's a reason why I played the position of "Left Out" in HS Football. My coordination -- um -- was less than "stellar." It's a curse that has only become worse with age.

Greg Damitz said...

You can hit them with a bit of brake cleaner if you don't want to smash them. It will dry them up and kill them. I choose to smash them to try and keep the amount of chemicals in the yard down. Now wasps they get poison.

Brown Thumb Mama said...

They ARE awful this year, aren't they? I sympathize.

The Small Child has a dreadful fear of BWs--he sees a daddy longlegs in the bathtub and has a fit. Please don't tell him I found one on his Big Wheel the other night. (And smashed it--I'm with Farmer Fred on that one.)

Katie said...

We had a huge black widow problem this year. Perhaps because we had a mild winter? I've also noticed a large increase in the widow spiders in general - it is the only thing I heartlessly eradicate on my little slice of heaven.

We were ever vigilant also - I made my nightly forays into the yard with my can of Victor Poison Free Wasp Spray (smells like mint!) and killed enough widows who's venom could have taken out a small city. I always tore down their webs too.

I only hope next year is better. [shiver]

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