All Spiders Must Die

One of my cousins posted the following chart to Facebook, and I think that most people would tend to agree with it:

all-spiders-must-die

Growing up in Arizona, I learned a simple rule for dealing with spiders: kill them all. Seriously. They all must die.

My philosophy for dealing with spiders was formed when we moved into a house on the northeast side of Tucson in 1978. At the time, our house was on the outskirts of the city, with little more than desert beyond our neighborhood. As a result, we had lots of creepy, crawly things roaming about. Between toxic spiders, toxic scorpions, toxic millipedes, toxic lizards, etc., we adopted an easy-to-remember motto for what was poisonous and what wasn’t: “If it crawls, it kills.” With that in mind, we generally killed anything that resembled an insect.

However, the worst of our lot was: an infestation of Black Widow spiders. I make no exaggeration – our house had hundreds of Black Widow spiders crawling about. As a paperboy, that meant checking very carefully when I exited the front door of our house around 5am every morning, because there were almost always 3 to 5 Black Widows hanging from webs in front of our door. If I didn't survey the area with due diligence, that meant that I would be wearing those Black Widows.

black-widow

At first I used Raid or some other insect killer to dispatch my arachnid antagonists, but I eventually decided to use a can of Lysol and a lighter to create a miniature flamethrower. (Note: Do not try that at home.) Just in case you were wondering, Black Widows simply melt when you attack them with a flamethrower. (Which I found savagely gratifying.)


Jumping ahead a couple of decades, my wife and I moved to Seattle, Washington, where we purchased a house on a hill which backed up to a small forest. Part-way down the hill on our property was a small storage shed. We didn’t need it for storage, so we decided to give the shed to our young son as a club house. With that in mind, one misty Seattle morning my son and I headed down the hill to the shed to clean it up for him.

Exterior06

As we pushed open the door, the musty odor from years of neglect and rotting debris was strong enough to force a hasty retreat from the average explorer. But we were determined, so we soldiered on. As we were cleaning out some of the accumulated rubbish from the shed, I noticed that the aging edifice had a drop ceiling, which was odd. Since it looked like the shed had been wired for electricity at one point, I decided to remove the ceiling panels and see what lurked behind them.

As I removed the first ceiling panel, I made a startling discovery: spiders. Millions of them. All shapes, sizes, and species. Some were crawling around, but most seemed to train all eight of their eyes on me as if to say, “Well, biped boy? What are you going to do about it?”

spider-in-web

As I continued to examine the situation, one alarming fact became painfully clear: our storage shed was obviously the breeding ground for every spider in the Pacific Northwest. Recalling my years of childhood training, my immediate thought was – they all must die.

With that purpose in mind, I headed down to my local Home Depot to pick up some spider killer. Much to my amazement, the Home Depot does not keep spider-killing chemicals in stock in Washington state. I could not locate any, so I asked a salesperson, who was quick to remark, "We don't kill spiders in Washington; we like them. They eat the other bugs."

This answer was unacceptable to me, so I resolved to make do with the best that I could find: I bought a case of industrial-strength fumigation bombs and I brought those home. I placed the first bomb on the floor in the center of the storage shed, pressed the release button, then I hastily exited the building and closed the door. On the next day, I repeated this process. On the following day I examined the carnage: as I removed the remaining ceiling panels, the corpses of millions of dead spiders spilled past me and littered the floor of the shed.

After sweeping up the remnants of my fallen foes, I checked behind the walls to make sure that no spiders were hiding behind the drywall and planning their counter-offensive. I found no spiders, but I discovered that the shed was infested with black mold, so I was forced to inform my son that the shed was off limits for health reasons.

Throughout my years in the Seattle area, I continued to deploy a fumigation bomb every year, and by the time we moved away I seldom saw any spiders near our house. I guess they learned their lesson. Or perhaps they simply relocated to a more spider-friendly house down the street. Either way, I was happy to never see them.


My wife and I moved back to Arizona this past year, and the former owners of our new house failed to take care of the property. As a result, I saw a few spiders loitering about the place when we moved in. This is obviously an undesirable situation, so I headed down to my local Home Depot, where I was thrilled to see dozens of different products which proudly displayed their ability to kill any species of spider.

As I was reading the labels and making my choice, a salesperson asked if I needed any assistance. I replied no, but I felt obliged to share the attitudes of his Home Depot colleagues in Washington state. We both laughed out loud with incredulity that anyone would actually try to save their spiders. Once I had selected my weapon of choice, I brought home my new-found arsenal and proceeded to dispatch my eight-legged tormentors to the arachnid abyss.

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