Don’t tell my landlord, but, I have a pet. It is a False Black Widow, and she hangs upside down in her web at the right angle of the wall and baseboard heater near my front door. Her name is Susan. Susan is very productive. Her web acts as a billboard of her health and possible mood. Sometimes I notice little black dots of dead gnats or other bug bits on her web-stoop and wonder if she’s eating light. Other days it looks like she takes happy little spider laps around my muddy boot tray tracing thin strings of web behind her as she wanders.
I first discovered Susan one Sunday morning.
The human eye is complex. With direct threads to the brain, you would think we would never question what we see. However, there are certain shapes, colors, or movements, that, when spotted in the corner of our eyes, we may believe, for a fraction of a second, we are under attack. I am convinced we have our early ancestors to thank for this heart racing reaction…and those freaking Velociraptors. One morning, me without my glasses on, scuffling through the kitchen half asleep, around the pillar, past my front door, thinking of nothing but “Do I have enough coffee to make two cups” when my god-dang heart freakin’ stopped! An alien-claw-like “thing” was sitting on the floor by the baseboard heater. It was dark gray. It had legs. It, thankfully, was not moving…but was it alive?
Test one: turn on the light. It doesn’t move.
Test two: get a little closer making large movements. It still didn’t move.
Test three: put on glasses and face your enemy.
Returning with glasses on and ready to fight, I discover that the “alien claw” is, in fact, the carcass of the LARGEST Wolf Spider I have ever seen. The Wolf Spider is a non-poisonous house spider found in many Northwest homes. I grew up in the Northwest and I’m familiar with this arthropod. A different part of my brain takes over. This is a natural science situation. After an hour of deep thinking, keeping one eye on the eight-legged horror, I came to this conclusion: this is either the molting skin of a very large spider that took up residence in that hole behind the freaking baseboard heater, OR another larger spider killed this large spider. Either way, there’s a large spider in that hole behind the freaking baseboard heater and what the hell!
It turns out that the large dead spider was killed by the petite, nickel sized False Black Widow. Impressed by this, I named her. Long live Susan.