Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

To All the Spiders I Have Loved Before

Late last night, I walked into a spider web. It was late at night, I'd just finished teaching, and I was heading to the garage to put the car in there and then go and crash for the evening.

The problem really arose after I walked into the web and had the the quick glance to find the spider. I found it easy enough: a large square sitting in the air, suspended by the web that I couldn't see. It looked like it was ready to jump, but I couldn't be sure. Still, the jumping spiders. Who likes them? My thought process as I stood there peeling web off me was, "Is this the jumping kind? I fucking had the jumping kind. They jump right at you. Also, they tend to be poisonous. Shit, it's by the garage, too. Is it a funnel web? I can't tell. Fuck, don't be a jumping funnel web."

In case you're not aware of it, the funnel web spider is one of Australia's fun time poisonous spiders. As someone on wikipedia wrote, "The Sydney funnel-web spider is one of the most dangerous spiders in the world and will defend itself aggressively if threatened or frightened. For this reason, humans are strongly advised not to approach them. Chances of being bitten are high if encountered, and bites can be lethal within 40 minutes if not treated."

Still, it had that big back, like an enlarged belly. Wasn't that really a red back spider?

Also, weren't funnel webs mostly located in the ground?

More importantly, the spider had not leapt into my face and caused me to shriek like a teenage girl. Perhaps it was just poisonous and not aggressive. Despite popular myth, the red back isn't very poisonous, and no one has died from it since the 1950s, or so this site is telling me: "To get bitten you have to actually stick your hand into the web of a spider, they rarely leave their nest. The fangs of the Redback Spider are tiny. Even if you do manage to get bitten the bite is likely ineffective. In addition the Redback Spider venom is a very slow acting toxin, and most people don't show any reaction to it (except it itches like crazy). Possible symptoms in those who do react are pain (can become severe), localised sweating at the bite site, and later on more sweating, muscle weakness, nausea and vomiting. A simple ice pack is the best first aid. In most cases it's all that's required as very few people actually develop these symptoms. Honest, if you go and see a doctor here and tell them a Redback bit you, they'll just tell you to go home and put ice on it."

(The symptoms of a funnel web, however, are somewhat more dramatic: "Australian spiders will often bite without injecting venom. But if you get bitten by a large black spider in the Sydney area you should take the bite seriously. The symptoms of the venom include pain, mouth numbness, vomiting, abdominal pain, sweating and salivation. Whether you have symptoms or not, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage as explained on the page about Australian snakes, and seek medical help.But there is no need to panic. Nobody has died from a Sydney Funnel-web Spider bite since an antivenom was introduced in 1984.")

Either way, I wasn't coming to a conclusion any time quick, so I left the car, went inside, found a can of poison and came back and sprayed whatever kind of spider it was. It crawled off in pain and I felt brave, which is often how I feel when I use chemicals to punish my enemies. However, this morning, when I went back to get the car, I found a tiny little baby red back in a nice position to squash, and I suppose it was really the latter and I didn't need to spray, but it doesn't pay to mess round, I guess.

I've never really gotten along with spiders. I used to be fine with them, but then a huntsman--a large, fifteen cm like spider that's ugly and mean looking, but quite harmless--laid its eggs in a car I had once. I didn't realise this until one night when I came back to my car after seeing a film, and found the roof shifting. For a moment, I thought I was having one of those moments, but then I realised it wasn't so much shifting as it was crawling with tiny, almost translucent baby huntsmen, in a number I couldn't possibly count. They had laid claim to the car though, and no matter of squashing would catch them all. That's why, unfortunately, trips in that same car for the next six months often resulted in swearing, screaming, and at one time, a sudden brake as spiders that grew in size over the months popped out and dropped onto your lap.

It was kind've distracting as you drove, you know?

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