Chapter Two – If the Spider Behind the Deck Rail Casts a Shadow, Is it Time to Move?

Feb 18 2014

by Yve Parker

I suppose had I been a follower of Central Virginia college athletics I would have been warned about the insect problem – namely spiders. Yes, nearly every conceivable variety of spiders make their home in Central Virginia. The University of Richmond’s nickname is Spiders, which pays homage to the proliferation of arachnid. If I’d moved to Central Virginia from the Amazon I may not have been concerned with the venomous creatures that lived on my front porch and in my lawn. In addition to Black Widows and the dreaded Brown Recluse spiders there are Copperhead snakes to avoid – really?

I formerly lived in a paved suburban community in Northern Virginia with barely an elbow between me and my neighbor and because of the close proximity I could count on overhearing a cell phone call or two if made on the neighboring driveway. Now I have land and space and fresh air – apparently the same things wild creatures prefer.

The importance of securing crevices and miniscule openings in your home that enabled nature to live with me soon became evident. It was after I had dark maple floors installed I noticed that the Wolf spiders {large, dark brown and hairy) were evacuating the chilly attic and entering my toasty home via tiny openings next to the hinges of the attic door. The room the spiders were invading was my home office. I was entering the room when I spied a Wolf Spider poised next to a trap door hinge and about to make its descent. A scenario to avoid is a dark spider on a dark floor. I also wanted to avoid the spider dropping down into an organizer on my desk. My lawn was being mowed so I solicited the lawn guy to wrangle the spider. We were victorious and all undesirable outcomes were avoided.

One afternoon while I was standing on my deck I noticed a rather large shadow, but I could not see what was casting it. I looked around and saw nothing until I peered behind a railing post and there was one of the biggest spiders I’d ever seen. I’d previously presumed that there was a size limit to insects located in a frost zone – I was incorrect.

When you encounter your first giant spider in the country; you share the details with others, who share their giant spider stories. The tale of a guy, who was cutting brush on his property and noticed a very large spider on his leg and nearly removed his leg with a machete, was riveting. I was concerned because the guy who told that story seemed pretty fearless. Another story came from a former NAVY SEAL who had encountered a burly spider on his arm while pumping gas. When tough guys get the willies because spiders are huge, it’s very worrying. Yet part of acclimating to the country is relaxing and getting used to the new environment. Eventually, you find that you are no longer alarmed by spiders or spooked by the possibility of encountering venomous snakes on your lawn.

I’ve grown accustomed to the deer roaming my lawn at night and bumping into my house. Does anyone know if deer drink? I’ve enjoyed carrier pigeon visits from a nearby perch. That bird should have been in Hollywood as it was beautiful shades of rose and knew how to pose for photos. I was pretty excited when I saw wild turkeys for the first time. Not tiny domesticated creatures – these birds would not fit in a standard oven or roaster. However, they are insect eating machines and when the hens bring the younger turkeys around my property to feast on bugs I wonder if they are eating spiders…


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