10 10 2008

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before that there are a hell of a lot of spiders out here.

I’ve been surprised by the variety: Big spiders, little spiders. Light spiders, dark spiders. Thick-bodied spiders, spindly-legged spiders. Poisonous spiders, harmless spiders. We have them all.

About a month ago, I decided to conquer my phobia of black widow spiders by capturing one and keeping it in a jar. I deemed it a “therapy spider” that would help both of us by eliminating some of the fear of the unknown. When it’s trapped in glass, the black widow really is a beautiful spider. The delicate symmetry and the depth of the black coloring in sharp contrast to the vibrant, red hourglass are quite impressive.

I told my sister Kaytee about the spider in a letter, and she named it Ms. Spider. I fed it insects from outside, mostly moths, to sustain it. At one point, I dropped in a large, black stink-beetle. The next morning, the beetle was eaten and the spider had tripled in size. The day after, the spider was curled up into a ball and was pronounced dead by Liesl. It stayed that way for three days, then was suddenly alive and moving around the jar again.

At one point, I dropped in a small, brown spider for it to eat. It was a spider that was already inside the house and, as such, would have been consequently squished, so I decided to make good use of it and offer the small spider as food to Ms. Spider instead. Sure enough, the next morning, the small spider had been consumed. It worked so well that the next evening, when Liesl found two more brown spiders inside the house, I added them to the jar as well.

The next morning, horror of horrors, Ms. Spider was quite dead and half-eaten. Black appendages were strewn about the jar. And the two small, brown spiders were dancing around the jar victoriously. That was the end of my pet black widow spider.

Our spider-keeping adventures might have ended there if not for the efforts of my lovely wife.

We were informed pretty early upon our arrival in New Mexico that October is Tarantula Season out here. I kept my skepticism to myself. Where I come from, the only way to find a tarantula is in a pet store for a good $40-80, or at the zoo. I figured that if there were, indeed, wild tarantulas running around the desert here, they were probably quite small, more “spidery,” and less “tarantulan.”

My wife spotted one outside a few days ago. She assured me that it was quite similar to the tarantulas we’ve seen in stores and zoos, but Mr. Skeptical here was still fraught with skepticism.

And then yesterday she caught one.

Don’t ask me how a woman who is in her third trimester of pregnancy manages to successfully capture a tarantula, but she did it. And it is an extremely cool spider.

The kids made me promise to go to the store on my way home today to pick up a proper enclosure for their newest “pet.” I’ve been researching this morning to learn the correct way to house a tarantula. Imagine my surprise to learn not only that there many avid tarantula owners out there (with entire websites devoted to their proper care), but also that some tarantulas can live as long as 45 years! This goofy spider, depending on how old it is already and whether it is male or female, could potentially outlive our dogs. That is, if we’re successfully able to learn to care for it and end up wanting to keep it for an extended period of time. Too crazy.

So somehow, over the course of our time here in New Mexico, I have gone from a spider “rescuer” (in Colorado, I used to take them outside if I found one in the house), to spider hater (I got so tired of them crawling on me here in my sleep that I became a spider stomper, even ones that were outside), and now to spider keeper.





12 responses

10 10 2008

I hate spiders but I think Tarantulas are wicked cool looking. You can keep them there though, I don’t want another pet. ;o)

10 10 2008

You have successfully grossed me out. I would NEVER be able to live there. GROSS!

10 10 2008

You didn’t even tell them what we named it!
Janna: we’ll send you pictures because he is wicked cool. He has orange on his butt 🙂

10 10 2008
Rob in Gallup

Oh yeah, I forgot that part! Liesl and I named the tarantula Spider Pig, which is an homage to both The Simpsons and to Kaylynn’s “Pigapig.”

10 10 2008
Emily Straw

That’s just gross. 🙂

10 10 2008


10 10 2008

I say put the two brown spiders in as food for the tarantula….surely they couldn’t overcome something of that scale. And quit keeping black widows for goodness sakes – your over it now, so all potentially threatening spiders are squishable material; especially with a newborn in the house!

11 10 2008

Way to go, Mom 2!!!!

11 10 2008

Spiders are only cool if on the other side of glass or in their habitats. I think the name of your spider is awesome though 🙂

13 10 2008

As I was reading, I realized I was having a visceral response, too. It would fall into the “flesh creeping” category. Jenn nearly said it all for me…..except the part about living there……

14 10 2008

Eeewwww, eeewwwww, eeeewwwwwww. And also, eeeeewwwwwwwww.

17 09 2009

Are straw bale houses prone to having spiders? My son’s seems to be infested with black widows. Is there way to move them out?

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