Friday, July 07, 2006

Bad Things Hide in Dark Places


Bad things can hide in dark places. Places where you sometimes have to place your hand. As I reached inside the small wooden pumphouse that shields our water pump from the elements, my eye catches a dark spot near the discharge valve I'm trying to open. I pull back and shine a flashlight into the shed to find that the dark spot is in fact a large black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans). As the light passes over it I see the trademark red hourglass found only on the larger female. Black widows are "cobweb" builders forming a jumble of crisscrossed web with no discernable pattern. Looking at her you can't tell if she's asleep or on full alert. I take a small stick, reach inside and gently tap a strand of her web. She bounds to the spot I touched with a quickness that makes me shudder. Had it been my hand that had brushed the web I would have more than likely felt the sting of her bite and later the excruciating pain of the neurotoxic venom she would've injected. From now on I'll make it a habit to look before I reach into dark places.

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