The truth is, I was too afraid to kill it when I saw it. Now we have a pet of sorts.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was locking up for the night, I came face to face with a spider about the size of baby Jane’s foot dangling from our back porch light. It was hairy, it was large, very, very spidery and about eight inches from my face. A mild case of arachnophobia seized my heart and I quickly shut the pane of glass separating me from imminent death. Whew!
It was only after the screen door and yet another pane of storm glass were securely locked into place that I could take a moment to marvel at our little late summer refugee. She was expertly binding a helpless fly with her silken cords. I called out to the kids. This was better than watching Nova.
“Check it out!”
And then the question that was on everyone’s mind,
“Is it poisonous?”
We quickly took to the internet, searching for photographs of spiders in our region. I’m no arachnologist or anything (seriously, that’s what they’re called.) But from what I could tell, we have a “Cat Faced Spider” taking up residence on the back porch. It was the description that confirmed it: Females can grow to be quite large and they tend to build webs next to porch lights in the late summer in preparation to lay their eggs. Not poisonous to humans.
Bingo. That’s what I was looking for. But by the time we did all that research, the kids had named her Charlotte and you can’t very well squash things you name. So now Charlotte’s one of the family, standing as a sentinel all night long, silhouetted against the glow of 60 incandescent watts, ridding our yard of flies one by one. Her webs are the size of dinner plates.
They check on her every night before bed.
“Good night Charlotte!” they chant.
She pretends not to notice them, remaining completely unruffled by their window pane tapping.
But I know it was their wonder and awe and affection that saved her from my broom that day. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up one of these mornings and find the words “Some Kids” sketched out in webby silk.
But just in case my diagnosis is off and Charlotte is poisonous, we still go out the front door and walk around to get to the backyard. Better safe than bitten.