Spider Warfare

by Megan M. on January 8, 2008 (Blog) |

All right: I promise I’ve slept, and the universe is functioning properly again. I’m hungry, without any kind of appetite for food, but otherwise… back to normal.

Sunday night I wrote—wrote—from 11pm until 4:30 in the morning. Marty and I had been discovering baby spiders everywhere, at least twenty-five and counting in the preceding 48 hours. Earlier that day, he had killed five of them hanging from the top edge of his laptop screen, all in a row. But when I finished writing at 4:30 (what was Monday morning), I stood up from the couch and realized that there was an infestation of baby spiders in my living room. They had begun to create webs across the space between the wall and the lamp, and the couch, and the computer, and, imaginably, me.

The spiders themselves were tiny and very difficult to find, but the webs were pretty… obvious. I would wipe them away, or fluff them away with a dishtowel, and ten minutes later they’d reappear. Industrious little monsters. I am pretty tolerant of spiders in usual scenarios, but it was early in the morning and I hadn’t slept yet, so I was starting to feel… intolerant. (That’s safe. “Intolerant.”)

After some ill-conceived (and ill-advised) target practice with an ancient bottle of bug spray—useless, and toxic—I gave up and took a shower, thinking I’d go to bed.

Of course, showers wake me up. And so do apartments full of tiny spider webs.

I read for a half-hour; Marty woke up, got ready for work. And left me to my war.

I moved into my office, away from the source of contention. They obviously wanted the living room. Okay, I said, you can have the living room. I worked for awhile before discovering that they’d made little homes in here, too: My standing lamp was a great source of webbish innnovation! I became furious. I vowed to take back my home.

I read up on spider shooing. Lots of people had interesting things to say about how to keep spiders away and although that’s not normally something I’d care about—spiders eating other bugs, and all—this was absolutely unreasonable. (I’m afraid I also came across plenty of information on brown recluse spiders, which was NOT what I needed to see. Dear God.) I bought a dustbuster. It will probably arrive today. I thought, hey—I can barricade myself at my desk and suck them up as I see them! (I ordered the one that seemed to have the most possible suck—here’s a link, if you’re curious.) I appropriated my bottle of eco-friendly cleaning fluid in a handy-dandy spray bottle and read the ingredients. All safe, mostly essential oils. In fact, many of the same essential oils listed as anathema (and deadly) to spiders: peppermint, citrus, etc. I added a healthy dose of tea tree oil and shook the whole mess up.

Then I sprayed my whole house with it.

It smelled great.

It took a few repeat applications. I couldn’t get them to leave the living room, although after a few pushes they stayed around the tree. In fact, after awhile it was really clear that they had made the tree home-base, whether or not they came from the tree originally. (When we bought it, the Christmas tree folks put it in a machine that shook it back and forth, violently, to divest it of loose needles, hitchhikers, etc., but Mom is convinced that such a thing wouldn’t have loosed egg sacks or nests inside the tree. Sigh!) One portion of the bottom of the tree was covered in a gradually-thickening layer of spider silk—it was impossible to see from most angles, but with the light streaming in from the window, it was right there. I abandoned the living room again.

Eventually my office was livable, so I stayed there. I hadn’t seen any incidence of eight-legged inhabitants in my bedroom (THANK GOD) so I sprayed there too, just to be safe. Eventually Marty came home and dealt with the tree, vacuumed… and it’s been much, much better since then. But you can imagine how all of this felt on almost zero sleep—in the trenches, man!

Since the tree’s exit, I haven’t seen any more spiders. I’ve seen webs—and seen them rebuilt—but that has only happened once or twice and I have my spray bottle handy. The Pest Control Dude came this afternoon and he told me that I would have far more success (and less exposure to awful chemicals) filling a spray bottle with salt water and spraying spiders with that. I was astonished. He said it really worked, that he used it in nursing homes where he couldn’t use chemicals. He said that the salt touches the spiders and leeches the moisture of them (what a way to go! But even so, I imagine the tea tree oil burns them, so…), and that keeps them away or kills them, or whathaveyou. So I think I will add a spray bottle of salt water to my arsenal, and keep watching for the little bastards.

All in all, I’m fairly pleased with myself. But I’m really, really glad it’s over.

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