Adventures in Mortein

I’ve never liked spiders. They’re horrible, freaky little things. Why do they need so many legs anyway?
Personally, I think my hatred is completely justified. It’s not as though spiders have ever treated me with any kind of respect.
I was three when I had my first confrontation with a spider. It was the middle of the night and I was making my way to the bathroom, when I came face to face with a spider the size of a dinner plate. It was the most revolting thing I had ever seen, and to this day I maintain that it was big enough for me to clearly make out each of its too many eyes.  Being my first such incident, I didn’t exactly handle the situation well. That is, I stood, frozen with terror, staring at the spider until my mother discovered me early the next morning, shaken and exhausted, about to collapse, but with my two eyes still locked with the creature’s eight (yes, spiders can have eight eyes – see here for evidence or to be traumatised for the rest of your life).
Spider Survival Rule #1: Know your enemy.
It would be nice to think that I grew up to manage such situations with a little more success, or even with a little self-control, but I didn’t really get the opportunity. The spiders raised the stakes long before I had the chance to implement an action plan.
By the time I was 15, my altercations with spiders were innumerable, but most traumatising were the MANY instances when spiders (including that one memorable white-tail) crawled down my face; the not one, not two, but THREE times I awoke to find a spider sitting on my arm and staring at me; and the occasion when I was forced to leap from a moving car to avoid a huntsman that had taken up residence under the passenger seat visor.
I’ve never been under any kind of delusion; it is very clear that the spiders deliberately terrorise me.
The situation was not improved by my father who refused to kill any of my assailants.
“No,” he would answer, and then spout some nonsense such as, “What if that spider is a reincarnation of your great great uncle?”
So what if it was? Surely Great Uncle Ralph didn’t WANT to be a spider. Surely killing him was the RIGHT thing to do. And as I would retort to my father, “If you kill him, then maybe Uncle Ralph will get to move on and be something less disturbing, like a goat or a grasshopper.”
               Spider Survival Rule #2: There’s nothing wrong with killing a spider.
But Dad always refused. Instead he would take them outside, as though that achieved ANYTHING, as though they didn’t just come right back inside to sit back on my arm and wait for me to awake, to, yet again, find them staring into my eyes. (FFS)
As an adult, I’ve usually found someone nearby willing to rescue me from my tormentors. My sister, my four year old nephew, or random bystanders, for example, were all usually willing to respond to my terrorised screams by removing (or preferably squashing) the daddy-long-legs which had crossed my path.
               Spider Survival Rule #3: Don’t be ashamed to seek assistance.
Inevitably, however, the day arrived when I was forced to deal with a spider on my own.
It was 3am and I awoke with a horrible feeling, that sixth sense that has always warned me of a spider’s approach. I switched on my bedside light to find myself staring up at the most enormous spider EVER. Yes, it was BIGGER than a dinner plate. I flung myself out of bed, turned on the room light, and stared at my attacker, terrified that it would run/leap/fly from the ceiling to a more secure hiding place, in order to prepare for a second assault.
Spider Survival Rule #4: Never lose eye contact.
I was living alone, but if it had been day time, I certainly would have rung someone to save me. I won’t lie, I definitely CONSIDERED ringing my father to demand that he drive across town to remove Great Aunt Gertrude, but I also realised that, if I did, he might remove me instead.
It was after about two hours of staring when I finally decided that I would have to take action. I hated to think what the spider would do if I left the room, but I needed supplies. Yes, of course, there was an emergency can of Mortein under my bed, but it was the regular surface spray and I knew that this spider was well beyond such an attack. Slowly, I backed out of my bedroom, maintaining eye contact for as long as possible, and then ran as fast as I could to the kitchen and bathroom and back to my bedroom.
I was armed and ready for battle.
First, I lay a sheet over my bed clothes, careful not to allow myself close enough for the spider to jump on me, then laid a few sheets on top. I prepared a large garbage bag at the side of the bed and then armed myself with both the surface spray and the can of Baygon Target Kill that I had retrieved from the kitchen (it was, by far, the happiest day of my life when Baygon released their Target Kill spray, with an extendable nozzle for direct targeting action).
I took a deep breath, let out a battle cry, which possibly resembled a terrified scream, and sprayed the entire contents of both cans at the spider.
               Spider Survival Rule #5: You can never use too much bug spray.
At first it resisted, but the deadly chemicals were too much and eventually it dropped onto the waiting towels, where I continued to spray it until all that was visible was a white frothy lump.
Quickly, I rolled the sheet and towels over the lump, threw them into the garbage bag, tied a rapid knot, ran outside, and threw it into the garbage bin.
I spent the next two hours sitting in my car outside the supermarket waiting for it to open. The spider was surely dead, but this was no time to relax.
               Spider Survival Rule #6: Remain vigilant.
I re-armed myself with Mortein Bombs (LOVE) and Baygon Barrier Spray and prepared to set up a spider-free zone. Of course, I had protected my house with a similar ritual every three months from the time I moved in, but APPARENTLY that hadn’t been enough. I would have to redouble my efforts, and so I did.
Most recently, I discovered that my new cat has a similar sixth spider sense and is willing to act as a Spider Alarm (too brilliant).
We now have a system:
Upon hearing the sound “WEE-YOW!” from my cat I run to the kitchen/armoury to retrieve the surface spray and target kill. I then head cautiously towards the source of the alarm, to find my cat diligently maintaining eye contact with the enemy. I then empty the two cans onto the assailant, or as is often the case, onto the area surrounding its hiding place, and my cat and I retreat to an appropriate distance and set up a defence perimeter. I then call in back-up and await my sister’s arrival, at which point she removes either the corpse or kills any survivors.
               Spider Survival Rule #7: Always have a plan.
Admittedly, the system isn’t without flaws, but have you got a better Spider Survival Action Plan?!

Author: Stuffed Olive

My awesomeness intimidates some people, others just point and laugh.

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  1. >It's 6am. The man person who removes spiders is in another country. I'm in the shower. Eventually, I wake up enough to realise a truly enormous huntsman is perched above the bathroom door. We ALL know how ludicrously clumsy huntsmans are. I'm a grown up. I have 2 or possibly 3 kids (I can't actually remember). I concoct a Plan. Clearly, I can't walk through the door, the spider will fall on me. So I climb out the first story window, onto the balcony, clad only in a towel. Fortunately I have failed to lock the balcony door to my bedroom. I dress and retrieve the vacuum cleaner and bug spray. I climb back through the window and stand, armed with vacuum and spray with the intention of sucking up the arachnid and following up with a can of spray straight into the vacuum cleaner. Several voices argue the situation in my head, but the one screaming "SPIDER" over and over wins. I climb back out the window, go back into my room, go downstairs and ring my friend. She comes to rescue me. In my defence, she also claims she will remove the spider to another location, until she sees the size of the … creature and then kills it stone dead.

    More recently I killed my own hunstman in my car. I'm quite proud of that.

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  2. >Ariane. I am honestly so proud of you too. Such an endeavour.

    I have no idea what the man person was doing in another country? Doesn't he know his place: standing with the cup and paper, ready to remove eight legged foes?

    And yet, with him away, you still managed to be so brave and, let's face it, down right heroic! In my opinion, which is based on years of experience, your plan was rational, logical and sound. Yes, huntsman are clumsy – or at least that's what their claiming. Personally, I do wonder whether their 'clumsiness' might be more deliberate than they imply. I mean, why is it that they always manage to 'fall' right when we pass under them?! I think it was a brilliant idea to climb out the window and onto the balcony. I'm extremely impressed that you remembered the towel given the terrifying nature of your circumstances.

    As for vacuum cleaners, bug spray, voices screaming "SPIDER" (yes these too), and friends who turn up to rescue us, well, these are the things in life for which I'm most grateful. These and ice cream.

    As for spiders in the car – well, I've nearly crashed my car a few times because of those, and nearly might be a generous way of saying that I did.

    Thanks for your story. Arachnophobics Unite!

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  3. Surely it would require a minimum of four people to maintain eye contact with each spider? This would make the instinct to seek assistance a perfectly reasonable survival strategy.

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