The Duel of Dawn and the Spider *cue OK Corral music and tumbleweeds*
When I noticed a huge black spider sitting in the middle of the floor.
Now when I was a kid, I wanted to be an entomologist, so there is very little of the creepy-crawly variety that scares me. I'd learned not to fear insects and spiders so much as respect them and also to learn what poses an actually threat and what is just...creepy. This was just a common house spider and certainly not dangerous, but it was huge, about an inch (2.5 cm) from front to back. I've certainly seen worse, having come from a rural upbringing in a place where we had wolf spiders the size of my palm with eyes that actually gleamed when you shined a flashlight on them. *shudders* This spider was a wolf spider's pet (or midnight snack) but it startled me, sitting all huge and black and creepy in the middle of the floor like that.
So I finished up what I was doing and tried to carefully creep around it, but it must have felt the vibrations from my footsteps and skittered into a crack beneath the doorframe. One of its legs was still poking out, though, so I hastened into the kitchen and retrieved a big, clear glass and an envelope with all intentions of catching it.
I should mention that I really try not to kill insects and spiders, even when they come into the home. Most I would even leave right where they are, but Bobby tends not to like them and had learned early in our relationship (from my clever sister, incidentally) that the best way to get Dawn to catch a bothersome critter that she would otherwise keep as a roommate is to yell, "Dawn! There's a spider! Come and get it or I'm going to kill it!" That brings me running. But this one was a little too big and a little too creepy even for me to be comfortable with it.
When I got back into the bathroom, the leg poking out from under the doorframe was gone. I prodded my envelope under there, hoping to scare it out, and flicked some water into the crack, hoping for the same, but the crevice was deeper than I thought, and the spider had escaped. For now.
Of course, by then, I was thoroughly creeped out. The damned thing had startled me and got all the anxiety juices flowing, and I couldn't fall asleep. I kept picturing that damned spider crawling across my face and snuggling into the blankets with me. The blanket moved once on my foot, and I jumped about a mile in the air. Finally, I realized that as long as I allowed myself to lie there and ruminate on the variety of ways that one can be surprised by a large spider--it could crawl up between the hand towels or slip into my shoe or hide in the bottom of my drinking cup--the more anxious I would become and the harder it would be to sleep. So I read until the anxiety reaction had settled and I could sleep with the lights off.
In the midst of all of this, I thought of Bobby. Bobby would not like the spider. He's a city boy, and city boys do not get along with large arachnids in any context much less when they surprise a person in the loo in the middle of the night. I wondered--if I didn't manage to catch it before he returned--should I tell him about it? On the one hand, he could help me look out for it. On the other hand, he would certainly be more freaked out and hypervigilant than me and perhaps without reason. The spider could leave at any time, making it useless to worry about it.
This morning, I woke up to the thought: The spider! I wondered if maybe it had crept back out in the night. I had left my glass and envelope in the bathroom just in case.
So I went to the bathroom and checked it like a cop clearing a room. I felt a little ridiculous. It wasn't on the floor, walls, or ceiling and it wasn't behind the door. I checked the sink and my waterglass, just in case. Not there. Behind the toilet? Maybe...and bingo.
It was crouched in the corner behind the toilet brush, but this time, there was nowhere for it to hide. I managed to get the glass over top of it (the thing was fast!) and slipped the envelope beneath the glass. Now the critter was trapped. The next step involves sliding the envelope onto a hardcover book so that the paper doesn't wrinkle and allow the spider to run up one's arm while being taken outside. I wasn't working in the best of conditions--behind the toilet--so this was tough, but it got down. Whew. And the poor thing was running around inside the glass madly, probably thinking I was going to eat it. I felt sorry for it.
I went and opened the balcony door and carried it outside, bumped over the glass, and the spider took off in a panic. So did I...right back into the house.
Usually, I name my house spiders. I had a Turgon for the longest time in the corner between the bathtub and the floor. (He was really small, so Bobby didn't mind him much. Plus, we had a fruit fly problem at the time, and I convinced Bobby that Turgon was our first line of defense in fruit-fly control. So he stayed, and I was careful to vacuum under his web.) Then an Aredhel in the study. When I lived with my parents, I had a whole succession of spiders named Coal that I actually think were the same kind that I caught today...only about a tenth of the size. But this one, luckily, didn't hang around long enough to earn a name. I thought about calling it Ungoliant as I watched it scramble across the table on the balcony, but that seems unfair now. If I had been startled by it, I hate to think of what it thought of me!
Jenni, Alina, Tarion, and I were talking about spiders a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that there is one local species that wholly gives me the creeps. These things used to like to build webs outside my bedroom windows at my parents' house, and during the spring, my mom would come along and open the windows, unthinking, and there they'd be when I'd come in. Ai! They build huge orb webs, and spiderwebs have always freaked me out much more than spiders. While poking around for pictures of my houseguest last night, I found a picture of this spider, apparently called Magora placida, that used to terrorize me as an elfling. They have big fat white bodies and chitinous red legs.... *shudders* I can barely look at the picture. But I'm offering it to any of you brave enough to try.
I haven't been able to find a picture of the spider I ousted today, but this kind is fairly common--albeit, usually much smaller--in our area. They are dark gray to black in color with two pale yellowish stripes down the back.