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Gopher Gulch: Spiders are do-gooders, let them live

I realize that I’m at risk of sounding like a broken record during some times of the year. Like now.

The experts say we can expect to have about 75 years of enjoyable life, give or take a few. That translates to 75 autumns, about 60 of which might be publicly active, and I've spent a third of them with you.

So forgive me if you’ve heard it all before, but the simple truth is I’m just goofy about spiders, and this time of year my life is full of them. The other day I saw, in Grocery Outlet, a hairy spider with legs 3 feet long and a body the size of a cocker spaniel. I instantly felt superior, since there were bigger spiders at home, but this one has flashing red eyes and I may go back and get him just for fun.

What impresses me about spiders is not that they exist, but that they exist running up my arm into my sleeve. This can lead to my leaping into a frenzied dance/strip act that could get me arrested. The goal is to let them go about being the miracle that they are, while not wearing them.

When a huge spider falls from the hummingbird feeder into the sink, it leads to gyrations that would convince an onlooker that I should be confined and heavily sedated. Ideally, the act ends with the spider back outside telling his children about the time he was abducted by aliens.

While it may seem as if there are many more spiders than usual, it’s normal for this time of year, when food supplies are high for these 8-legged predators. A couple weeks ago the air was suddenly full of flying termites. Within two days the birds, the bats and the spiders had eaten everything but the wings.

They have no interest in us. A few bite, but only when they’re spooked and only two sorts of poisonous spiders live here. The bite of a black widow will make you sick for a couple of days, while the bite of the more rare brown recluse requires immediate medical attention.

Among many cultures Grandmother Spider symbolizes wisdom and creativity, and I remember one spider that wisely created her web outside my office window, where the light went on at about 4 a.m. Within moments night-flyers moved toward the light and into her web. Before daylight, she’d be tucked into a dark corner belching bug. She’d sleep there until dusk, then repair the web before her next feeding.

If not for spiders, we’d be wading hip deep in disgusting things. Spiders eat insects and there are just enough of them for the food supply. Please don’t kill the spiders, because anything that upsets the spider/insect balance will create problems. Next thing you know, we’ll be up to our eyebrows in flies and their offspring, maggots.

Frankly, I’d much rather have spiders than flies and maggots.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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