I had stashed a box of mutt treats in the top cabinet and had almost forgot about them. But mutt treats ran low, the dogs looked as if they were going to go into some sort of canine catatonia, and my memory was therefore jogged. I was retrieving the box of said treats from the top shelf of the cabinet when one of my resident spiders slid down from the ceiling and stopped just short of landing on my nose.
A lot of people freak out over the presence of my eight legged roommates, but truth be told they’re here for a reason. In eight years living here I’ve yet to see a living roach. Okay, there was that night the click beetle invaded, but by and large, the spider, having been given free rein to live as they please, have feasted on any bug that has dared enter the house.
“Mike, spiders are %$#@#$&^ bugs!” a woman who I once dated told me the night after this very same explanation. A very large and what I considered handsome species of house spider was making its way across the ceiling when my female companion noticed it. Needless to say, the evening certainly took a turn for the vertical as she began to scream in regard to the spider. But my stance is fairly clear. You will either live with bug, you will live with spiders, or you will have someone come in once a month and hose down your place with chemicals, and live with the idea that there is a substance capable of killing roaches spewed all over your house. I watched a roach live for two minutes in a microwave oven that was running at high.
No one ever developed a tumor from living with spiders.
I thought I recognized this particular spider as Bella, a friend of my from the %$#@#$&^ bugs night.
“Greetings, Bella.” I whispered. Speaking even at normal tone vibrates the web and makes for difficult arachnid conversation, at best.
“Greetings Firesmith, but I am Beattie, great granddaughter of Bella, whom you saved from the Screaming One. Your compassion is noted well, but I fear I must recall details of our treaty at this point.” Her seven eyes held my steadily.
“But I have held my part, oh, I know it was the web I ran into this morning wasn’t it?” There was a massive circular web at the front door this morning. I hate it when a get a face full of spider web first thing in the morning, really.
“No, no, no, Firesmith, the treaty clearly states that incidental contact with webs are not a breach of peace, nor are they an act of aggression, and clearly the first section of the treaty states that our kind must not block the entrances and exits of this abode. Indeed, each new clutch is schooled on those places of traffic.” Beattie told me. Spiders are the most patient critters you will ever meet. They are accustomed to waiting for things to happen, except the jumping spiders, who are like small dogs on caffeine betimes.
“And I replaced the towel in hot tub. I know the woman removed it, but she doesn’t understand.” I figured it had something to do with something a woman had done. I leave a towel hanging into the hot tub when it’s dry because the slides are too slick for spiders to climb out of easily.
“No, Firesmith, the problem lies with our kind. But we told you this before; there are certain prey animals we do not hunt easily, nor do they become ensnared. It is in the agreement, but I thought I ought to warn you about them.” Beattie began rising in the air, back towards the ceiling, as if immune from gravity.
“The fireants in that container you hold.”
Just then I felt a thousand tiny feet all over my arm and back. My home had been invaded, and Beattie’s warning had come a few seconds late. The command was given and each fireant, tiny but well armed, stung me in unison. I spent the better part of Friday night cleaning out my kitchen cabinets, and using hot soapy water to kill the little bastards, because I have zero pesticides in the house. My arm, shoulder, and low back look like I’ve been hunting with Dick Cheney. The spider did their job, were not obligated to take on the fireants, but damn, a little warning sooner would have been nice.
I think they’re still pissed about me cleaning the back porch with a blowtorch last winter.