Saturday, April 21, 2007

Further spider adventures

Last night when The Man came home I was ready for him at the door. I do not usually greet him at the door, but I wanted to warn him about the spider. The last time he got a surprise was last week when I came up the stairs and he hadn't heard me come home. He was just leaving our room, and thought he was alone in the house. I saw him, but he was looking down as he put on his slippers and didn't see me. When I said hello his scream almost sent me flying back down the stairs. It took a little while for us to forgive each other after that.

I did not want another incident like that one.

So I told him about the spider, and we discussed what to do. Eventually we decided to ask it politely to leave and hope it would be gone in the morning. Sometimes this works.

This time it didn't.

This morning I told The Man the spider was still there, but he somehow managed to momentarily forget and give himself (and me) a fright when he spotted it a bit later. It was clear that something had to be done. He had to go into Osaka today, so I told him not to worry, I would take care of it.

"When you come home it will be gone," I promised, somewhat rashly.

But before you commend me for my courage, let me tell you that I weighed up this decision very carefully. If I get rid of a spider, it involves a gentle removal possibly highlighted by a couple of surprises. If he does it, it's a Dramatic Incident highlighted by heart-stopping screams, shouts, curses and probable failure, and it's highly likely I would end up being blamed for the whole fiasco. There are some dramas a woman can easily omit from her life without missing them at all. That was an easy promise to make.

I went to the supermarket first, though.

When I came back the spider was still there, which was a disappointment. I had been hoping it would go away by itself and I could take the credit.

I prepared myself. I had decided to use the milk carton trick again, but discovered that all our empty milk cartons had already been cut open ready for recycling. So I decided to use a cut-open milk carton and a plastic bag. The idea was to slide the milk carton under the spider, then drop it into the plastic bag and take it outside. The spider had already proved itself to be not very active or responsive, and I didn't think it would do its bolting up the wall trick. I suspected it was sick anyway.

So I slid the milk carton gently towards the spider. It didn't react at first. Then the edge of the carton touched its legs, and it started to climb the wall slowly. This was a problem. How could I get it to go down onto the carton instead of up the wall? I looked around, and saw a bookmark sticking out of a book on the shelf behind me. I took the bookmark, and used it to gently push the spider onto the carton.

Success! But only for a moment, because the spider didn't like the carton, and walked off it before I had a chance to shake it into the plastic bag. I tried again. This time, since it had moved so slowly, I decided to make a run for it.

I ran for the stairs, holding the carton flat in front of me and moving it so the spider stayed in the middle. The spider did not like this. It ran for the front of the carton and dropped off the edge, spinning out a thread. Now I was halfway down the stairs and the spider was hanging from the carton, getting lower and lower. I held the carton up higher and higher and had made it to the bottom when I realized the spider had disappeared.

Even sick, slow spiders spin their threads VERY QUICKLY.

I looked for the spider and could not find it.

On my way back up the stairs I had a horrible thought. Was the spider stuck to my slipper? Had I stepped on it when it dropped to the stairs?

I hadn't.

I came back up, and inspected the one photograph I had taken before beginning my spider-removal job. It was hopelessly unfocussed.

But where was the spider? I was worried now. I could tell The Man that it had 'gone,' which would be a little bit true (it was gone from the basin), but what if it reappeared? Could my nerves cope with a sudden reappearance witnessed by The Man? I went back downstairs and hunted some more. I checked under the edge of the entry step. I checked in all the shoes. I checked under the shoe cupboard. I checked the walls and ceiling. No spider.

I decided it was time for a cup of tea, and went to the kitchen.

On my way up the stairs, carrying my cup of tea, I was very calm and did not spill the tea when I spotted the spider sitting on a riser. In fact I walked right over it and up to my room before my head exploded. It was a sort of delayed shock thing. I put the tea down carefully, and although there was nobody there to hear me, I shouted,


This was technically true, because although I could not have ACTUALLY stepped on it, not being a wall climber myself, it was entirely possible to ALMOST step on it.

I grabbed my camera and went downstairs again. Going downstairs made me feel funny because I knew the spider was there but could not see it. At the bottom of the stairs was the milk carton, the plastic bag, and the bookmark. I was ready to try again, but not without taking some pictures first.

In the first picture you can see two steps, and the spider sitting on the riser between them. From one step to the next it is 22 centimetres. I checked. So you can see this is not a monster spider. It is, however, rather large.

I think there is something wrong with that back leg. And where are its fangs? I cannot see any fangs. Spiders are supposed to have fangs, aren't they?

But you can see what I meant about it being furry. Those are odd little extra long hairs it has, though. What's that all about?

And look! You can see the thread, the tricky little devil. That is the escape line.

After taking the photos I got my spider removal project underway again, putting the carton, the bookmark, and the plastic bag into action. This time I was successful. The spider went into the plastic bag. I closed the bag. I went outside.

In the garden, I opened the bag ... and there was no spider inside.

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? I SAW the spider in there. I was LOOKING at it when I closed the top of the bag!

On close inspection I noticed a very small hole in the bag. I can only guess it escaped through the hole, although the hole is less than a centimetre across.

Back inside, a search of the entry revealed no spider. It was not on the stairs, the walls, or the ceiling.

Poor spider. I hope it's not feeling too ill after all the adventures I imposed on it this afternoon. It must be hard, being a sick spider and having people shriek at you when all you really want is an aspirin. I tried to be gentle, but I don't think it understood.

I hope it is well-hidden, wherever it is.


Maria said...

oh, eep.

my first two months in kyoto i lived in a "gaijin house" since it was hard to find accomidation on your own from overseas. during my first week i must have seen what was a gokiburi or a damn big cockroach and i screamed from here to kingdom come, and i am quite tolerant of bugs. last week, a lizard dropped what was literally out of nowhere in my apartment when i moved my koto aside for cleaning; i totally freaked out but eventually was able to catch it and let it outside.

Anonymous said...

Aaaagh! You are very calm, considering ...
You could try my technique (with the relatively teeny spiders we get in the UK) - creep up on the spider and trap with a large drinking glass (open end against the wall, obviously). Slide a piece of sturdy card behind the glass and carry the whole thing outside. This doesn't always work with a wily spider, but at least you can see whether you were successful or not!
Love your blog (this is my first blog comment anywhere!)

Badaunt said...

Maria: FLYING gokiburi were the biggest surprise for me. I had no idea they could do that, and it was a shock. Even worse is that they don't seem very good at steering, and are quite likely to fly straight into you. I had one land on the back of my neck once, and pretty well raised the roof with my screaming. I am normally fairly calm about dispatching them (with detergent, which disables them quite quickly), but I lost my cool completely. Those horrible sticky little legs ON MY NECK!

Anon: I've used the glass trick for catching flies and bees, but I don't think we've got a glass big enough for these spiders. There might be one big enough for the one today, since it wasn't that big, but if the spider moved it would result in amputation, and I don't really want to hurt them. I just want them to stay out of my way!

Perhaps I should go shopping for a really big glass.

Keera Ann Fox said...

The thing's missing a leg (they have 8). No wonder it may not be moving like normal.

I could never do the glass trick mentioned above (I use a milk carton). Even a dead spider gently moved a bit by a wee breeze has me shrieking in panic. If I saw one moving inside a glass I was holding - !!!

The Editter said...

i have been so much better at not freaking out over creepy crawlies since I've had George junior in my life. He freaked out over a bug on his trampoline once, so I removed the bug calmly so that he could see freaking out was silly. We both screamed and ran around waving our hands when we found a dead rat under George's pillow down south though...

kenju said...

I do the glass and cardboard trick, although I usually use a paper cup, so I can throw it all away afterward.

Badaunt said...

Keera: Oh yes! The seven legs thing - I noticed that when I was watching it, but forgot when I was looking at the pictures. I think I got distracted by the odd-coloured leg on the other side.

It looks like it had an accident involving hind legs.

Editter: Being calm is much easier when someone else is doing the freaking out for you, somehow. Or maybe it's just that it seems silly to have two people screaming over one insect.

The rat, though... eeew! How did it get THERE?

Kenju: Transparent glass (or plastic) often works better than anything opaque because the insect doesn't see it coming, which is why it works for flies and bees - flies are almost impossible to trap in a paper cup. (What we REALLY need is for someone to invent a transparent paper cup. Or milk carton.)

StyleyGeek said...

Oh dear. Reading your post made me feel equal parts queasy and paranoid. I am okay with huntsman spiders on two conditions: that they are at someone else's house, and that they don't scuttle. Yours broke the second rule.

As for the back leg, many of the huntsmen I have seen here are missing a leg or two, and it doesn't seem to be bother them. So if yours is sick, it might have other issues.

I know what you mean about cups not being big enough for these ones. We have the same problem.

In Denmark, though, where spiders are normal sized, we lived in an apartment building with a bathroom in the basement shared between five apartments (this is pretty normal in Denmark). It collected lots of spiders. There was a specially decorated cup and piece of cardboard in the bathroom specially for spider removal. It was labeled "Edderkop kop" (spider cup). I thought that was cute.

cristina maria said...

Badaunt, I love your blog so much! Read it every day but I missed the previous entry on spiders and its corresponding link. I kept wondering why you'd scream so much and go to all that trouble for a measly spider. Until the photograph!! YIKES! That thing is huge and furry! It's a wonder you and The Man didn't run screaming from the house or sleep elsewhere for the past few days!!! EEeeeeEEEKKK!

Try a wide soup bowl for your edderkop kop and a sturdy piece of cardboard. Perhaps a butterfly net?

Love your photos, your writing, your stories and your blog. Or call the local fire company.

Wiccachicky said...

Holy crap! That's a scary spider!! I hope he ended up outside.

Anonymous said...

I use a vacuum cleaner but the problem then is emptying the dust container. I usually get someone else to do it... I think they've got little bug vacuums in Japan? It's like a portable vacuum cleaner shaped somewhat like a gun, you suck the bug up and press the trigger to release the bug. And there's another type that catches spiders with velcro or something

Soon Bing said...

I don't have much trouble having most insects do their crawlie all over me, but cockroaches are the definite exception.

Even after 2 years of sleeping in the steamy jungles with all sorts of crawlies, I refuse to touch those brown things within range of a bamboo pole. I kind of like spiders, probably because they remind me of Spiderman

Pearl said...

:) I love that you would wish it well and take it outside and make a portrait of it, and tell your adventure.

Such a wonderful post to visit.

Lippy said...

Ye gods! It's a monster! I'd be doing the vacuum cleaner thing. Then filling the bag with bug spray. Like a whole can full. Yuckity-yuck! Hate spiders... can you tell?