1. Mosasaurus rex says

    Nuts. I was hoping the link would lead to a story of RICK Warren getting bitten on the ass by a brown recluse ;)

  2. Joe says

    If you ever have to have your scary creature fix, and are lucky enough to live up here, where we don’t have much to be afraid of, head down to the Branson area. Yeah, you’ll have to suffer through ads featuring Jim Bakker, but if you hike around, you’ll find enough black widows, scorpions, and odd looking little worm snakes to fill you up. And, while we didn’t find any, the brown recluse is there, too. You can look at him/her through the glass at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, along with some rattlers and other scary things.

    A nice day trip from MN/WI, leave in the evening, you’re at the Gateway Arch for sunrise, in Branson by afternoon. You’re in the belly of the beast there, so it’s probably wise to peel off your “I hated Bush before it was cool” bumper sticker.

  3. bPer says

    Good story. Makes me glad I live in an area that AFAIK has no such venomous critters.

    Like the author, I can’t bring myself to wantonly kill spiders. We have a few ‘pet’ spiders around the house. A couple of them are real pains – regularly hanging out in the kitchen sink or the coffeemaker reservoir. I’m always having to shoo them away to save them from a watery demise. A while ago, one of them got on top of the toaster-oven when we were using it. I guess the oven was getting hot for him/her, because it started lifting all but three legs, alternating legs every few seconds. After watching this for a while, and wondering why it didn’t simply climb down, I offered him/her a finger to climb on and I relocated him/her to a cooler and safer part of the kitchen.

    About this time of year, we normally relocate the bigger spiders to the garden, using one of these. Sure, a glass and index card works just as well (better for small insects, actually), but this is better for fast-moving guys, and this is the only tool my wife will use.

  4. Kenneth Mareld says

    Blinded by a spider bite.
    Last year my brother in Yakima, WA was bitten by a spider while he was clearing out a bunch of boards from the side of the house he had recently purchased. He felt an ouch on his right shoulder, upper arm. Saw a small spider and flicked it away. A few hours later, with swelling on his shoulder, and increasing pain he went to the doctor. I don’t know how much flesh the doctor excised, but he has an indented scar the diameter of a quarter. He was then put on prednisone to control the inflammation and swelling. He stayed on prednisone for three months. Towards the end of treatment he noticed that while the pain and inflammation was finally gone he couldn’t see worth a shit. It was all indistinct and blurry. I turns out that one of the side effects of prednisone treatment is cataracts. It got so bad he could no longer drive a car safely. He was effectively blinded by the spider bite treatment.
    The happy ending is that science and technology has a solution. An opthamologist removed his degraded natural lenses and replaced them with synthetic ones. All his life he (as I am) has been very near-sighted. Now his distance vision is fine. He still requires glasses for reading and computer work. So, though blinded by a spider bite he now sees better than he ever has. When will lens replacement become the norm for myopia and astigmatism? I’m a poor candidate for Lasiks or whatever the current name is for slicing and dicing the eyeball. I look at my vision and say intelligent designer, my ass.


  5. Leni says

    Ugh. Disgusting

    The only time I don’t kill spiders is when they are too large. If it is like stepping on a mouse I can’t do it. Of course it’s not out of love or empathy though. It is sheer disgust, fear and loathing that keeps me from killing them. It’s too gross having to clean up the bodies…and they never flush on the first try, so you have to watch them swirling around for several seconds before they go. Blech!

    (I have living in a screenless, basement apartment in Seattle for several years to thank for my arachnophobia. There is really nothing like throwing back your covers to find a 3 inch long wolf spider cozying up to your pillow. Ugh. It makes me gag just thinking about it!)

  6. llewelly says

    Makes me glad I live in an area that AFAIK has no such venomous critters.

    That’s ok. Grocers import all manner of venomous foreign critters all the time.

  7. says

    That British spider catcher is interesting. I’m afraid that I have a much less pleasant way of dealing with spiders of any significant size in the house, if I get the chance. Its into the vacuum with them. In one way its probably not a good idea given that we get camelback crickets in the basement in the summer, and a spider might do in a few.

    A couple of years ago we had this one as a resident, but he or she was where they belong, outside, and we left it alone. It was apparently a cat face spider.

  8. Russell says

    I live in Texas. We have all four varieties of venomous snake in the US, a few different varieties of scorpion, black widows, brown recluses, large, toxic centipedes, wasps and yellow jackets out the kazoo, and doubtless more that I don’t know. It would be a full time, Sisyphean task to kill every poisonous thing that slithers or creeps.

    The good news is that the giant tarantulas are NOT poisonous. I’ve had them crawl over my feet, without problem. They’re just large and hairy. :-)

  9. bPer says

    llewelly said:

    Grocers import all manner of venomous foreign critters all the time.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find that that’s the case – here in Canada, a large portion of our fruits and vegetables come from the US. Strangely though, I don’t recall hearing stories of people being bit by foreign insects. Seems to me such stories would be very tempting for the news media. You’d think that bulk food workers (e.g. grocery store stockers) would be particularly vulnerable. I know that it is illegal to import foods that are contaminated by insects (so importers might take precautions to minimize infestations), and that food is inspected as it comes across the border, but you’d expect some critters to get through. Curious.

    I did a superficial Google search for mention in Canada of foreign insects in foodstuffs and didn’t find any news reports. The most common things I found were government documents referring to importation regulations and inspection procedures. Is it possible that this is more of an issue in the States than here in Canada?

  10. wright says

    An interesting and instructive encounter. I have a similar policy towards venomous but non-agressive domestic interlopers too. One can be respectful and merciful without being stupid.

    I’m helping to raise my 3 year-old nephew, and his parents and I are instilling the same (I hope) sense of wonder and respect about nature in him.

  11. says

    I grew up in Southern California, so I know from black widows, up close and nearly too well. Dozens lived in the garage of my childhood home.

    One night, when I was in my teens, my parents and I went out to dinner as we sometimes did. As usual, my father backed the car out of the garage to make it easier for us to get in it. The garage wasn’t small — black as pitch after nightfall, it looked positively cavernous — but honestly, with two cars and a motorcycle in it there wasn’t much room for maneuvering. Anyway, we had a two-door Honda Civic (not the bitty variety but the first decently sized model) and, after my dad backed out, I crawled into the back. I didn’t know that I wasn’t the only one to do so. As we drove along, down our no-so-well-lit street, there was enough light from outside to allow me to fleetingly discern something in front of me. It flickered in and out of perceptibility for a moment or two before I asked my mom, almost casually, to turn on the dome light. Which she did. Right before I lost all my breath in a frightened yelp which almost made my dad crash the car. My mother blanched. I yelped because there was a big black widow hanging, I kid you not, right around two inches from my nose. Her red-orange hourglass was facing me. It felt like I simultaneously turned into cold water and elastic, because I snapped to the other side of the car just like that ::snaps fingers::. I don’t know how my dad pulled over so quickly or how he got the spider out of the car, but I was never more relieved than when it was gone. “She was an adult,” my dad observed later, adding that she must have gotten in through the little space he’d left the window down. “Yeah, dad, I know. I know. Thanks.”

    I’ve loved spiders ever since… though in controlled circumstances, mind. However, my favorite spider is not the black widow. Myself, I love those fancifully colored jumping spiders best.

  12. anon says

    One of the things I’m really hoping will fall out of biotech advancements is the ability to either neutralize or completely exterminate small, highly toxic, wildlife. It usually takes a dose of stupidity to get attacked by large predators like lions or monitor lizards. Bad luck is all it takes to get attacked by a box jellyfish or other toxic threat. There’s no reason we should consider the retention of latter any more desirable than the retention of smallpox.

  13. yoshi says

    Question: what is a good place to look for spiders and their possible bite effects (areas help – specifically minnesota).

    I am bringing it up because as I was dozing off reading some boring technical magazine monday evening my upper arm was bitten by something. The thing of it is I didn’t even notice until the next day after I’ve gone to the gym and was getting ready for work. Since then my upper arm went from a dark red, to black/blue, to back to a light red and now its the weekend is finally clearing (i suffered no other affects but I did contact my doctor just in case). So I am just curious what has gotten into my house. Its a 100 year old thing so I am used to seeing all sorts of interesting multi legged creatures inside (which tend not to last long thanks to two dogs and a cat).

  14. Boosterz says

    I imagine a LOT of people have brown recluses in their homes but just don’t know it. Buy some of the glue traps for mice and place them around in strategic areas for a few days then check them. I have 3 traps in just my bedroom. After a week the recluse count is at 20. Every year I gas the house at least once(sometimes twice) but every year they just keep coming back. On the plus side, when the spiders get thick, you NEVER see any mice in the house. ;-)

  15. says

    One of the things I’m really hoping will fall out of biotech advancements is the ability to either neutralize or completely exterminate small, highly toxic, wildlife.

    Given that the problem is human interactions with several different kinds of nearly unrelated animals, it makes more sense — strictly from a task management perspective — to eradicate the one species that makes up one entire side of the set of transactions.

  16. Liz in Australia says

    Wright, I agree; it’s a great attitude to instil in kids. Where I live in Australia we have redbacks (but no funnelwebs), as well as a huge variety of big, hairy but relatively harmless spiders, and I teach my kids to be respectful but not afraid of them. I am an ex-arachnophobe and desensitised myself by keeping huntsman spiders for years and learning about them. Fortunately I got over this early enough that I haven’t taught my kids arachnophobia by example, they love spiders! Our latest pet we have had for a year – we had the good fortune to have captured a gravid one, so my kids and I got to watch the whole process of spinning and egg-laying. Fascinating creatures.

  17. says

    Over here it’s the white-tailed spider – and I believe another species gets the bad press in the UK?

    and the funny thing is, cases of necrosis with no obvious cause get attributed to these spiders, even if the spider was never seen, and even in areas where that spider *doesn’t live*

    and regarding Anon’s idea for ecological genocide – box jellyfish are food for turtles. Funnel-web spiders, whilst potentially deadly to humans, are only dangerous to us by a fluke of the venom – cats, for example, are immune. All these ‘highly toxic’ animals have no interest in humans, per se. They just want to defend themselves and subdue the stuff that they eat.

  18. says

    Since “anon” posted the same comment here as over at Warren’s, I’ll post my reply here, too.

    There’s no reason we should consider the retention of [the] latter [venemous animals] any more desirable than the retention of smallpox.

    That’s a rather stupid comparison. How many people did smallpox kill per year, even in supposedly “resistant” populations, and how many people have died of brown recluse bites in all of recorded history?

    Stating a desire to exterminate essentially harmless species (they’re harmless even if you meet one but react appropriately, as the above episode demonstrates) is an admission of allowing fear to govern one’s decisions. You fear spiders, so you hate them. What else do you fear? I imagine the list is long.

  19. Jon says

    A comment on brown recluse aggressiveness:
    They’re everywhere here in Mid-Missouri. Both homes I’ve lived in have had lots. I’ve kept a few as pets. The ones I kept were timid with me, and they’d generally hide from insects with which I tried to feed them. I thought that my first one was going to starve to death–until I tried another spider. My pets immediately killed and ate any spider I’d give them. BTW, I’ve been bitten once on the toe (didn’t check a shoe that had been in the closet a while.) I spent the day in bed in extreme pain, but that was the only effect.

  20. says

    PZ, thanks for the link. I discovered Saturday a kilohit spike in my SiteMeter, and figured you were the reason. ;)

    I’m glad I was able to share the story with others, even those who seem to believe that the only good spider is a dead one.

    That simply isn’t true.

    Oh, and Jon — kept as pets? Yikes.