And along came a spider

If you read “Charlotte’s Web” with your child (and you should, it’s a wonderful story), it’s likely to happen.
I thought my children might outgrow it. No such luck. While they don’t much like having spiders in the house, neither of my children will kill one. In fact, my daughter is in mourning over the death of one big arachnid that lived on our front porch. Even worse, I am, too.
The thing is, this spider was atop our porch for almost a year, maybe more. I can’t say I exactly miss having a big, scary spider by my front door, but after a while, everyone got to know her. Then one day last week, she was gone. I finally spotted her way up high next to a big egg sac. Just like Charlotte, that was her last hurrah.
Insects have never been my friends, but I was admonished early on, by my biologist brother, that spiders are not insects. I see most six-legged creatures as the enemy, eating my plants, leaving itchy welts, munching on my sweaters, congregating on my kitchen counter and buzz-bombing me or my lamp at night. Our primary line of defense, of course, is ol’ Br’er Eight-Legs.
Even though spiders kind of creep me out, I honor their bug-eating status. My husband insists we leave spider webs intact for a balanced environment. Are you surprised that he doesn’t mind having cobwebs in every corner of the house?
So last fall, when this hefty spider took up residence by our porch light, we let her be. Upon investigation, I believe our houseguest was Achearanea tepediorum,
Family Theridiidae, or the “American House Spider.” Just a note, for lack of a photo — these guys are big, with a fat brownish body and legs a good half-inch long. In spite of that, we became fond of this door guardian and kept tabs on her as the seasons changed.
Within my limited knowledge about bugs, I had the impression that they only lived a few weeks, multiplied and then died. I was rather comfortable with this plan, but it seems I was wrong. It turns out these spiders live for two years or more! And I think our porch light area was the equivalent of living next door to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
When she finally died, we realized that she had become a fixture, one of the gang. I have posthumously named her Charlotte. I looked really closely and I am pretty sure her web spelled, “Thanks.”


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