Our backyard is a mess. The former owner of our place used it as a junk heap and tossed all the crap from their odd jobs back there. When we moved in, we took three truckloads of crap out from back there. Eventually we want to clean up the back yard and make it into a nice place for the tot to play, but right now, that’s not real high on our list of things to do. It’s pretty wild back there, grass knee deep, holes and lots, and I mean lots, of spider webs. They are on the fence, all through the grass and in the cactus’s. You can’t find a square foot in the back that doesn’t have a web in it.
About two weeks ago, the apricots on our tree in the backyard became ripe. Man, are they good! Catherine’s father had come over to visit JL and he loves apricots. So I braved the yard to fill up a bag. Once the bag was full, I went and got the hose to give the tree a good watering. He had told me that if I did this and then came back in a week, the apricots would be even better. So while standing there, giving the tree a good hosing, I had the time to really look at all the webs everywhere. There were all kinds of webs, but a lot of them looked like Black Widow webs. The window to the garage was really covered in them, so when I figured the tree had enough water, I turned the hose on the garage window!
Webs came tumbling down! I turned the hose to the jet setting and really gave the window a good what for! I was almost finished when I saw what looked like a dark ball drop about a foot down the window sill and then stop itself.
“Hmmm, most interesting!”
I walked over to it and had a good look! This is what I saw.
She was a big girl! In fact, it was the biggest Black Widow I had ever seen! Her abdomen was about the size of quarter and with her legs extended, she was a formidable sight, almost the size of my thumb! Most people would have squashed her, or got the bug spray, but not this idiot. No way, a bug this big needs to be part of the family for a while! So even though I hate spiders, I headed inside to get the proper poisonous spider hunting gear!
I grabbed a big red oven mitt and a single plastic chopstick from the kitchen! I also went and got our nine year old nephew, Ruben, who was staying with us for a few weeks.
“Hey Rub! Want to go catch a huge Black Widow spider I found in the back yard with me!”
JL had gotten a wooden bug cage from his Nana a few months back as well. It was sturdy, covered with mesh and had a large enough opening on the end of it that I figured I could get the spider in without to much damage to it, and hopefully, me.
We headed into the back yard again to the garage window. Ruben, being the smarter of the two of us, decided to stay about 7 feet back from where I had spotted her. She had vanished from the spot I first saw her so I started poking around under the window sill and then along the ground with the chopstick, putting thoughts of it crawling up my pant leg out of my head. After a minute or so I spotted her again! She had wedged herself into a crack under the sill, but she was so big, some of her legs couldn’t get in. I had spotted her because she had two large legs hanging down in plain view. I heard Ruben mutter behind me, “Holy crap!”
I asked Ruben if he wanted a try at getting her out of the crack and into the cage.
“No way!”, and then took another step backward.
I took a deep breath and the game was on!
I started gently prying her out of the crack. She wasn’t happy about that. She reluctantly gave it up and ran up the chopstick! I dropped her to the ground before she could get to far up! Thankfully, Black Widows aren’t the fastest spiders around. I opened the trap while trying to avoid her on the ground. With the oven mitt on the chopstick hand, I realized how vulnerable my bare hand was holding the trap open. To late now!
She was pretty determined that she wasn’t going into the trap without a good fight. I chased her around the ground for a while, moving my feet to avoid her while knocking her away from the safety of the garage wall. With a quick movement, I got her onto the trap and close enough to the opening that she crawled right in thinking it was a hole. I slide the door closed and it was done!
Ruben and I headed to the front yard to show off our mighty catch! Catherine was grossed out when she saw it. Her father stated, “Yep! That’s a big one all right!”
Little man thought it was pretty interesting and would point at it and proclaim, “Bug! Bug!”
We named it Charlotte and kept it on the front porch for a few days. It settled into the cage and built a cool little web. I eventually let it loose across the street from us in some bushes. Getting it out of the cage was far easier then getting it in. I watched it crawl across the rocks and under the bushes before disappearing. It had been a great piece of entertainment.
It turns out she wasn’t the only big Black Widow I would see that week.
A few days later, Catherine’s brother Mo came over and weed whacked the back yard. We could finally see what was going on back there. While he was working, I moved a board the was against the house and saw another large Black Widow. Unfortunately for this one, I was armed with a can of Bee Nest killer. (I was taking out some tiny nests on the back of the garage) The spider got a large blast of the bee killer.
A few days after that, I was in the garage, cleaning it up. I had recently finished putting up storage platforms and new supports for them in the rafters to move the boxes on the floor up into storage. After I had moved an air conditioning unit, I noticed a large Black Widow squashed on the side of it. I looked at my shirt and thank goodness, nothing was there. I had been lucky enough to have had the corner of the towel that had been covering the air conditioner between my chest and the spider.
Three large Black Widows in a short time frame. I’m hoping the cleared back yard and tidy garage will help drop their population now. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.