Thursday, September 23, 2010


No, not this one...

Living up here on a small island near the Canadian border we've got a lot of critters. A couple of weeks ago we had a pair of big Owls move in and start wiping out the big Red Squirrels in our Maple trees. They were pretty chatty, and their screech sounded like Casper The Ghost was living in our yard.
In Spring we battle Ants which swarm into our place. In Fall, we have to deal with the Spiders.

These are not the little spiders that hang out in a web in the corner. These are "Hobo Spiders", which are the most aggressive and self-aware spiders I have seen in the Pacific Northwest. According to Wikipedia, the Hobo's first came into the country before the 1930's in shipments from Europe to Seattle. They have since expanded their territory to Oregon and Idaho.
I don't know if they are just maturing in the Fall and are becoming more visible, or if they enter the house as the cool wet weather sets in.
These guys are big and ugly. When I catch one trapped in a sink, they fight back as you try to crush them and flush them down the drain. If they are in open ground, they see you coming for them and they run like hell for cover.
The problem is, they have a nasty bite:

I know quite a few people who have had to go on antibiotics after they have been bitten. Often, a small infection starts and they don't know why. After a visit to the Doctor, toxicology results say it was a spider bite. If not treated it can turn into flesh-eating disease. The people I know ended up with staph infections, suggesting it's not just venom but nasty bacteria that goes along with the bite.
A teacher at the High School told me he saw a student with a huge wad of gauze crammed into a wound on his side. The kid said he had killed a large Hobo spider but never realized he had been bitten. At the Doctor's office, the wound was cleaned out. The Doctor pulled a bunch of spider eggs out of the kid's wound. That's right, the spider had laid eggs in the kid, and they were about to hatch.
Lately in my war against the Hobo's I've been having some pretty close contact. My wife was cooking recently and I was sitting in a chair reading. I felt something crawling on my arm, and sure enough, it was a big Hobo spider. I calmly got up and asked my wife to step away from the sink. I shook it off in the sink, took a fork and we did battle as I forced it down the drain with hot water and fork. My wife freaked out. Then, the other day I opened an upper cupboard to pull out some Tea. There was a huge Hobo staring right at me. Before it could retreat to hide, I grabbed one of it's legs and flung it into the sink, once again to battle it with fork and hot water. I mean, these things really fight back.
Generally, they only appear to bite when they are accidentally threatened, like if you sit on one or it happens to be in your shoe or pant-leg when you are getting dressed. Oh joy. I've been shaking out my clothes before I get dressed.
--So today, I'm opening up the comments section for other peoples stories of creepy-crawlers. Spiders, Scorpions, Vampire Bats... What's your story?


Patrick Parker said...

Lately around here we've been having a lot of snake-killins reported in the local newspaper - photos of teenage girls holding up snakes as long as they are tall and about as big around as my forearm.

One of my patients stopped at Wendy's for a burget and the Chief of Police was there waving for him not to park there or get out of his car. He moved the car and discovered that there was an asphalt-colored triangle-head (viper) lying under his car.

We also have apiders. The largest we ever see ar mostly-harmless bannana spiders, but last couple of yeras we've been getting brown widows (as if our normal crop of black widows isn't bad enough)

Steve Perry said...

I did a writing conference years ago, it was at a Methodist youth camp in the St. Gabriel Mountains outside L.A. We were the only people there, and it was in the dead of winter, just after Christmas and over New Year.

Got up one morning and when to use the toilet. When I was done, I reached for the TP roll and perched on top of it was a Black Widow spider.

Quite the shock.

My first writing office at our first house was the tool shed next to the carport. I tricked it out, put up walls and a a rug. Came in one morning and found a King snake laying on my dictionary ...

Dojo Rat said...

"Tool Shed King Snake" could be the next Steve Perry novel.

By the way, I'm dying to get a copy of your Hippie book.

Someday I will re-visit my mis-spent youth in Portland, and I would love to play Ukulele, Guitar, and Knives with you.
My public e-mail contact is

daniele.perkele said...

Once, while taking a shower, I felt something wet and soft on my right shoulder. I picked it up with my hand, as I thought it to be but a lock of my own hair, just to find out it was an awuful centipede, at least a span long. Scolopendra polymorpha would be my guess. Well, I tossed it on the floor and looked for something to annihilate the fearsome beast, but the only thing I could find was a dustpan.
Gross. The thing kept moving for minutes, after it was dead.
My showers haven't been the same ever since.

Sean C. Ledig said...

I'm always amazed at the terror spiders inspire in some people. I had a pet tarantula, named Hecate, for several years.

One time, when my father and step-mother came for a visit, I pointed out Hecate to them in her enclosed glass tank. The two of them nearly killed each other trying to get out of that room.

I should mention that my father is an avid outdoorsman who's camped and hiked in some of the most rugged wilderness in the world. My step-mother regularly accompanies him on these trips.

I've seen him calmly step over rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the trail, and chase off grizzlies and mountain lions. In the Okefenokee, he woke a 16-foot gator by hitting it with an oar because he didn't want to get a picture of it sleeping.

But spiders just set him off.

Todd Erven said...

About 8 years ago I was bit by what the doctors think was a hobo spider. It was on my thigh and happened while I was sleeping. At first it seemed like a painful mosquito bite until it started to get bigger.

It turned black and when it finally broke open, it didn't close for 4 days. I missed about a week of work and was on crutches for a few days because it was too painful to walk. I still have a scar the size of a quarter.

That experience along with a mild case of arachnophobia had me sleeping on the couch for 6 months.

steve-vh said...

Years ago I was bitten in a field while mowing by who knows what but, it felt like I was hit on the shinbone with a good 2x4. The most amazing colors and itches for weeks. Kinda stays with you.

While staying in the jungles of the Philippines a few years back, at the open lodge another couple shared a pic of the large spider on the wall of their Nipa hut, easily 6-8" span. Sleepily left before everyone else for my room in the dark very much aware of spiders now. When I got to the room and turned on the 15watt bulb, laughed at myself for being so flighty. Until I then spotted the 6" brown one on the shower ceiling blending in with the Nipa!!
And yes, we found a millipede in the AM.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

I stepped on an Asian black scorpion in Indonesia several years ago, walking barefoot in the jungle. I thought I was going to die, this fucker was roughly the size of a three-egg omelette. My foot still has a dark brown area where it stung me - hurt like hell for a few days, pus ran out & then it scabbed over.

At the time, I was shitting bricks - I didn't know ANYTHING about scorpions, except people in movies always die from them. When the villagers heard how big it was, they laughed it off, said I would live. Apparently, it's the baby ones that are deadly.

I hate spiders. HATE. THEM. Anything with 8 eyes can't be any good.

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