By Grant McGee: Local columnist
“We have a jumping spider in the laundry room,” The Lady of the House said a few days ago.
“So?” I said. “It’ll eat all the bugs in there.”
“I don’t mind it being there, it was just being obstreperous.” The Lady of the House uses big words because she’s a teacher. Obstreperous means “to be noisily and stubbornly defiant.”
“Why was this spider obstreperous?” I asked.
“It was sitting on the dryer door and wouldn’t move,” she said. “I had to go get a broom and brush it away. Next thing I knew it was sitting on the timer knob. I had to brush it away again.”
Spiders get to live at our house. They have a job to do: Eat annoying bugs. An eight-legged arachnid skitters by and we just watch as it moseys on.
Jumping spiders are probably my favorite arachnids; they work for their food. They spend most of their day just hanging around until something they can eat happens by. Then, like a tiny cat, it positions itself just right and pounces. One summer I spent many an hour on my grandmother’s back porch watching a jumping spider hunt flies on the porch’s big screen.
Another fun arachnid is the trap-door spider of the Arizona deserts. They live in a burrow with a covering over the entrance. When they sense a bug or something is near, the trap door flies open and they grab dinner.
Then there’s the wolf spider. They’re just plain fun. They’re so big and they make people scream in offices in eastern New Mexico and across the nation. This makes for a fun break in the daily routine.
You have to hand it to spiders; many have got it made. They spin a web then just hang out waiting for a meal. Some hapless bug flies by and gets caught in the web. Then the spider descends upon them, injects venom to throw them into a semi-coma and wraps them up into a tight package for a snack later. As a kid I thought it was pretty cool to watch. Then I saw the “The Fly” — not the 1980s remake but the 1958 original. There’s this scene where the tiny fly/human gets caught in a spider’s web. There’s a squeaky voice, “Help me, help meeeee” as a slobbering spider heads in for a bite. The special effects were pretty cheesy but it’s still one of the creepiest scenes in any movie I’ve ever seen.
Now there are folks who will talk of bites from a brown recluse spider or a black widow and that does happen from time to time. By all indications if you give them a wide berth they won’t bother you. As for black widows, that’s one spider who gets a free ride to the country. I really don’t like them in the garden or the woodpile.
I don’t know when I stopped squashing spiders and letting them hang around the house. I know it was before I lived in a place in Amarillo full of spiders. The day before I returned my key to the landlord I went around with a jar collecting all the arachnids from the corners, nooks and crannies and setting them free outside, knowing the place was going to be fumigated.
After all, there’s an old English saying: “If you want to live and thrive, let a spider run alive.”
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: