Get That Bug Out of Your Mouth! You Don’t Know Where That Bug’s Been

I’m near the middle of the novel I am presently working on. One of the participants is a small dome shaped creature with multiple legs. black widow spiderIt sounds similar to a spider even though I don’t use that term in the book.

It got me thinking…and we all know how dangerous that can be. I’ve written several blogs concerning pets that I’ve owned in my younger days that leaned more toward the exotic–an alligator, a boa constrictor, a ferret and an American chameleon (which was nothing more than a small green lizard) to name a few.

Now, I want to preface this next paragraph by saying that I’ve always been a little kooky but never into dark or dangerous activities. I feel I have to do this because of the next pet I’ll be describing…pet is probably an inaccurate word…let’s go with acquisition.

Just as today, there were two types of pets and/or acquisitions in those days–the kind you bought and the kind you caught. The acquisition in question was the latter, better known as the “latrodectus” or black widow spider.

What possessed me to cut a hole in a metal jar top, cover it with cloth, throw a little gravel in the bottom, place one upright stick into the jar and then capture a black widow is still a mystery to me.

Side note: ever notice when a kid catches something he’s going to stuff into a jar, that something always gets a rock and a stick. I guess it’s the first rule of animal ownership.

Anyway, that’s what I did. She immediately began to weave a web that utilized the complete interior of a twelve ounce mayonnaise jar.

Now if you just plop something (a spider) into a strange environment, (a jar complete with a rock and stick) cut off from the basics to sustain life, you must supply those basic items (plump juicy insets which might have otherwise enjoyed the new habitat had they not been on the menu.)

This was a big fat healthy spider so I decided to test her prowess of gathering food. I managed to capture a paper wasp. I tossed it into the jar expecting at least somewhat of a battle. The wasp jiggled around in the web until the spider nonchalantly sauntered over and bit the very tip of the wasp’s rear leg and backed off, waiting for its venom to take effect.

Some battle. Wasp hits web, spider bites wasp, spider wraps wasp in burial shroud and sucks meal at its leisure. Did I mention the obesity factor when I first acquired the arachnid? Well, it got fatter. One morning I awoke to a skinny spider and a huge egg case.

Cool, I thought, the circle of life taking place right before my very eyes. Elated, I rubbed my hands together. Now let’s see what you’ve really got.

Searching through a stack of bricks, I procured another black widow. Admittedly, she didn’t appear as healthy as my combatant, but what the hay.

I dropped the second spider into the web of death.

Expecting somewhat of a battle this time, the newcomer immediately adopted a subservient posture at the bottom of the jar. My champion yawned, bit the newcomer and voile’ another meal down the gullet.

After meal number three (a honey bee) she was once again fat and sleek, a champion in the spider world if there ever was one. I woke up the next morning to yet another neatly woven egg case.

I don’t know what I was thinking (obviously I wasn’t) allowing a jar full of death to set on my dresser, giving it no more thought than a picture set in a frame. Then one fateful morning I awoke to thousands of juvenile black widows pouring out of the egg case and spreading throughout the jar. Hmm, I thought to myself, maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.

A few short squirts of insect spray and I learned two very important lessons:

1.) I was very good at raising poisonous spiders.

2.) I was very, very good at arachnid genocide.

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