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Home & Garden Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, April 30, 2009

Spawned thoughts
How I found help to finally banish spiders from my home

By Paige Spawn Pierle

I have never killed a spider. That does not mean that I am brave when I see those eight-legged arachnids. Rather, I am everything but brave. I commission others to destroy them for me.

I would rather not have them killed, as I do not like the idea of killing anything. Yet often times the spiders move too quickly so that they cannot be captured and released outside. I get anxious as my rescuer tries to capture the spider, and my fear only escalates. And so, I order the spiders to their death, knowing that I am just as guilty for murder as the one squishing them in a tissue.

When I was really young, my sister and I—both arachnophobes—encountered a spider one evening while our parents were out. We were too scared to approach the spider and we were haunted with images of the spider hiding under our bed sheets if we let it be.

We had to do something. We decided to try to kill the spider by throwing a large object on top of it, while maintaining a safe distance of three feet away from the creature. We ended up throwing one of Dad’s large work boots on the spider, hoping it was trapped between the large treads under the boot. We left the boot on the living room floor until our parents came home.

A few years later, I was home alone when I saw a thick black spider on my bedroom floor. I knew my grandfather, a carpenter, was next door working on my uncle’s house. I got to him just as he was getting inside of his truck.

“There’s a spider,” I said. “It’s huge!”

Shaking his head, he climbed out of his truck and walked up the hill to my home. Sure enough, he came to the rescue and killed the spider—with his finger.

Years later, now married, I and my husband, Joe, moved into a house that was vacant for a few months while it was being renovated by Joe and his father. It was only a few weeks into our marriage when I realized that Joe and I were not the only ones living in our home.

One evening, when Joe was at work, I decided to clean the bathroom. It was then that I met what would be the first of our many housemates. The spider was white and, with its legs stretched out, was about the size of a half-dollar. Nearly paralyzed with fear, I abandoned my cleaning project, leaving the sponge and cleaning solutions next to the tub. I shut the bathroom door, stuffing a rolled up towel beneath it to trap the spider in the room.

That incident was the first of many that would be repeated during the first few months in our new home. I saw at least one—often two—spiders a day. After six months, I did the math, realizing that about 200 spiders lived with us!

I refused to do laundry until the spiders moved out. Our washing machine and dryer were located in the basement, which was where most of the spiders lived. Yet, not liking the way Joe washed our clothes, I soon gave up on my word and ventured back into spider territory.

I walked to the washer in a straight path, looking only at the floor in front of me. I did not allow my eyes to wander, as I was afraid I would find a spider on the wall and not be able to wash our clothes that day.

I screamed whenever I saw a spider—regardless of the time of day or night. After hearing my scream, Joe would dutifully rise out of bed or stop whatever project he was working on to kill the spider and flush it down the toilet. I said a prayer after each kill, feeling guilty for my phobia that turned us into murderers.

I adapted to my fear. Before starting any project, I checked each room carefully to make sure no spiders hid in the corners. If I saw a spider while I was involved in my task, I would have to leave the room and the project unfinished. I would try to prevent that from happening by scanning the room before beginning an activity.

My tension remained until one glorious day when Joe found a new visitor in our home. It was not a spider but a carpenter ant! I knew that moment marked the end of us sharing our home. Joe called his father who told us to contact an exterminator. Having re-finished most of our house, they did not want their hard labor to be destroyed by these wood-destroying insects.

To our relief, the exterminator treated the carpenter ants and killed off our spiders. I am sure the spiders are now just as scared of the exterminator as I am of them. The spiders finally know that we will not share our home with them. Instead, we welcome our exterminator, and the maintenance treatment he provides for us at the beginning of each season. He keeps away our unwanted housemates. As a result, I am much more relaxed in our home, confident that we live here alone—just me, my husband, and our dog. We shut our door on the spiders. For good.

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