Did anyone else notice a mass exodus of spiders this fall? It seems to happen every autumn just after the first freeze.
When you think they would be hibernating, spiders start showing up in sinks, bath tubs, come crawling out of drains and even purses. You don't dare throw a towel or newspaper on the floor, because next time you pick it up, there will be a spider camped under it.
There's always a note of anxiety in the air when we curl up on the couch to watch a weekend video, because last fall, after wrapping up in my favorite afghan, I discovered I had curled up with a king-sized spider. The spider scared me, but my piercing scream as I pitched that afghan across the room scared my husband worse.
There seem to be two schools of thought on spiders: The "Stomp' Em" school, which sees them as vile creatures, or the "Catch and Release" school, whose motto is "Do unto spiders as you would want a superior being from another planet to do unto you."
I'm a catch and releaser. Spiders make my skin crawl, but at the same time I feel sorry for them. They can't help it if they're hideous and are just doing their jobs as spiders. So, I'm caught with the quandary of having to catch something revolting and then spend time with it while transporting it to the door before I get hysterical.
Over the years I've perfected catching techniques by experimenting with various containers and kitchen implements. I use a tall plastic pitcher to corner the critter, then simply flip it into the pitcher with a rubber spatula. If you shake the pitcher, the spider won't be able to climb out before you reach the door.
I'm convinced that if someone could invent a one-handed version of this with a spring-loaded trigger to snap the lid shut, they would become an instant millionaire.
Of course, there's always the exceptional spider who tries to match wits with its human stalkers. We had one on the ceiling that cleverly attached and concealed a rappelling thread. So, after my husband thought he had caught it, the thing popped back out of the pitcher swinging wildly right in front of his face.
In preparation for our son coming home at Thanksgiving we decided to evacuate spiders from his basement bedroom. During the week we caught and released seven of them, and after a while a few began looking familiar. Could some of them be sneaking back in, we wondered? Any arachnidologists out there who could tell me if this is possible?
There is one type of spider you should never kill and that's garden spiders. They are the leggy black and yellow ones that like to hang in zucchini vines, and the tan ones with big horned abdomens. Both are hideous, but harmless. They're timid, avoid humans, build beautiful webs, and do keep bugs off your plants.
Besides, trying to kill big insectoid game can backfire on you. Like it did to my friend Tammie.
She was walking through her garage one day when she spotted an indescribable clearish spider-like thing. It was ugly and huge, so she stomped on it -- but it didn't die. Instead, it clung to the bottom of her shoe as she ran screaming outside trying to rid herself of the thing. It turned out to be a pseudo-scorpion.
Getting back to my original point, there was such an exodus of spiders this fall that you couldn't get away from them. One even crawled across the lens of the KGW Skycam near Timberline, so that poor hapless people checking the skycam for weather were treated to the sight of what looked like a giant spider scaling Mt. Hood. (Check kgw.com, then skycams, then classic skycams on the internet).
The last straw was a few weeks ago when I went to do a story on a grade school Spanish Club. The song the kids were learning to sing in Spanish was -- you guessed it -- "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."