Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Don't Remember Neurotoxins Being Part of this Ebay Auction

"Who sent you that package? A Bond villain?"

This was said by me to my girlfriend on Sunday. It's possible that I may have said it in a more colorful way. It's also possible that I shrieked it out like a little girl. To my defense, sometimes voice control is hard when their is an open box on your coffee table that contains a black widow spider. A very angry, very active black widow spider.

Just a head's up to all you E-Bay sellers out there- unless someone orders a poisonous spider, there should never, ever be one in a package you send to the auction winner. It's considered bad form. Particularly when the contents of the box requires one to plunge their hands into it. If you can't guarantee a spider-free package, to the very least shipping should be free.

Leaving that aside, I learned a few things about black widows this weekend:

1) They move extremely fast. As someone who finds even a still picture of a daddy long legs terrifying, the speed with which a black widow can eat up the distance between you and it came as a nightmarish revelation. Being frozen in fear didn't help matters much.

2) It is the female black widow who is poisonous. The male is not lethal. How you can spot the difference is by size (hard to tell unless you have both in front of you) and by markings. The female has the iconic red hourglass on her abdomen. The male either has no markings or a pale white/yellow hourglass. This is only helpful assuming the spider is lying in a tiny reclining chair allowing their markings to be in full view. In the case of it being belly down on a table, your mind kind of forgets that there is any distinction whatsoever.

3) In terms of design, the black widow is quite beautiful. Gross, but beautiful. They are all defined angles, sharp points, and round orbs. They are the sleek ninjas of the spider world. Sorry tarantulas. That makes you the ogres.

4) I don't think they like being called "Scary McFangface."

In the end, we were able to remove Mr. McFangface (yup, turned out to be male) from the premises. I suggested pressing charges and putting him in spider prison for breaking and entering. This was deemed "a patently ridiculous idea" (to which I posit that it is merely for the lack of a visionary lawyer that we do not have an inter-species penal code), so we relocated him to the back yard. I spent the rest of the afternoon staring out there to make sure he walked off into the sunset like Bruce Banner at the end of the Incredible Hulk TV series. But I fear he's plotting to return in full Lou Ferrigno rage.

Coincidentally, earlier that afternoon I was at the Conservatory of Flowers to see the Wicked Plants exhibit. It's based on a book by Amy Stewart about all the various flora that will kill you. A few months back she also released a book called Wicked Bugs. As you probably gathered, it's about all the creepy crawlies that will kill you. Guess who has it's own chapter in there?

While I fear that by reading the book I will become even more concerned about what lurks out there in my garden, I'm also trying to look on the bright side. If I find enough of the dangerous invertebrates, I can charge people admission to view them. Then I can move away. Far, far away.
posted by jw