It’s tarantula season here on my hilltop, that time each fall when, for about a month, the male of the species emerges from its underworld to wander the hillsides in search of a mate, while the female stays at home in her cozy burrow waiting to be wooed. No word on her criteria, but even if she does accept the advances of her eager caller, she may decide to kill and eat the hapless chap in her post-coital desire for a snack. And that’s what’s known as a really bad date.
When I was a city girl, insects terrified me. Especially spiders. I bought Raid by the crate. When an unfortunate arachnid crossed my path, I’d drown the thing in a wave of toxins, spraying until the entire can was empty and nearly asphyxiating myself in the process. I am personally responsible for that hole in the ozone we hear so much about. But all of that is in the past. I have given up my murderous ways. For the last 20 years, I have been a country girl and learned that most of the natural world would just as soon avoid us if at all possible. And really, who can blame it?
This year, I allowed a Daddy Long Legs to take up residence in one corner of my living room. It had not the slightest interest in me and it kept the mosquito population down. I named her Beatrice when I suspected she was “with eggs” and, alas, had to evict her before her kids could hatch and get used to HDTV. As with all such evictions, it involved an empty pint-size ice cream carton placed carefully over the intruder, while a piece of cardboard is gently slipped underneath. Then I march its creepy little ass back to the great outdoors. Each time I hope that one of them will turn out to be of the magic variety and, for my kindness, will bestow upon me the proverbial three wishes. I’m still waiting.
This week, on his way to a fate still unknown, a tarantula mistakenly wandered through my open front door. My cat, Mason, never known for his bravery, alerted me to the intruder just in time for me to see the last of its long, hairy legs disappear behind the TV cabinet.
Hollywood has given these docile creatures a bad rap. Once the critter realized that it had been spotted, it scurried to hide. The only thing worse than a tarantula loose in one’s house is a tarantula-in-hiding in one’s house, and so the need to capture and relocate my frightened, furry friend took on a certain urgency.
In the old days, I would have taken a bat and beaten the bejeezus out of the thing, while screaming at an octave only heard by dogs and peeing myself. Instead, I dumped out a shoebox (clearly, the pint-size ice cream carton was not going to do), grabbed a broom and managed to gently coax the big guy inside. Then I walked up the hill, looked for a ground hole that might contain the next Mrs. Tarantula and deposited him quietly beside it. I do hope the bitch didn’t eat him.