I was putting away freshly laundered towels when I caught the first glimpse of her. She was crouched on the hard floor, shameless, slowly tapping a spindly leg, one of eight similarly striped. I had never seen another creature like her, except perhaps in nightmares. The Palace’s fierce feline guard, generally quite interested in any hapless critter smaller than herself, dozed lazily on the chaise.
Slowly, smoothly, keeping her at all times in the sphere of my peripheral vision, I slunk toward the kitchen and retrieved a rocks glass. I fished a box out of the recycling stash and cut a small square of corrugated cardboard.
Deep breath. I eyed the spider warily. Would she run? Could she jump? Might she… bite?
I felt flushed. My eyes widened and my nerves tingled; the proverbial hair stood up on the back of my proverbial neck. I took a small step closer to her. Then another. Deep breath. In one smooth motion, I brought the glass down around her.
Hahaha! Trapped, Arachnid ninja!
Just then I had a fleeting thought that she just might be powerful enough to move the glass. She was about an inch in length, with legs thicker than toothpicks. And she had not so much as flinched since I captured her under the glass. Was she mocking me? Just biding her time? Perhaps planning a spectacular, stunt-filled, action-packed escape from my little prison?
With adrenaline still coursing through my veins, I slipped the small piece of cardboard under the glass, nudged her forward onto it, then picked up the whole contraption and set it on a well-lit ledge. This little exercise banished all thoughts of her escaping: the weight and heft of the glass would be too much. I peered in and studied her. What strange markings! I’ve seen my share of creepy insects—believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a New York waterbug up close and personal, the size of a mouse with the jumping ability of a lit bottle rocket. And then there was that shiny, squiggly monster-looking thingy in my tub that one time, whatever the hell that was (some kind of insect science experiment gone horribly awry, I am sure). And, I’ve also seen my share of spiders: daddy longleggers, as well as tiny little fiends in their tiny little webs in the corners near my ceiling. But nothing like her.
I fired up the Google Machine to search for images of common U.S. spiders. As it turns out, there are a lot of common U.S. spiders. I perused the search results. Nope. No. Not that one. Okay, definitely not that one. No. Nope. Wow, what is that? No. No. No. Wait—what’s this? It sure looks an awful lot like her…the shape, the color, the distinctive markings, everything.
I click on the image, and it takes me here:
Wolf Spiders …venomous – non-aggressive
Venom toxicity – the bite of the Wolf Spider is poisonous but not lethal. Although non-aggressive, they bite freely if provoked and should be considered dangerous to humans. The bite may be very painful. First aid and medical attention should be sought as soon as possible, particularly as to children or the elderly.
Spider Identification – an adult is 1/2 inch to more than 1 inch in body length – mottled gray to brown in color, with a distinct Union Jack impression on its back. The female carries it’s young on its back.
Habitat – this spider is a ground dweller, with a burrow retreat. It has a roving nocturnal lifestyle to hunt their prey and can move very rapidly when disturbed. Commonly found around the home, in garden areas with a silk lined burrow, sometimes with a lid or covered by leaf litter or grass woven with silk as a little fence around the rim of the burrow.
WHAT!? Venomous! Dangerous to humans! Moves very rapidly! Very painful bites! Seek medical attention a.s.a.p!
I eye her warily and with new respect; she still hasn’t moved. Out of morbid curiosity (and a morbid fear that she just might, in fact, escape her confinement), I click on the FIRST AID – Wolf Spider Bite link. This is where I learn these fascinating factoids:
- As the venom of spiders moves very slowly, any attempt to restrict its progress will only serve to increase the associated pain, which can be excruciating. [Excruciating!]
- The bite victim should be kept calm and reassured; all undue movement should be avoided. [Hahaha! Sure!]
- Use an ice-pack on the bite site to reduce the swelling. [Great. Now there’s swelling?]
- Medical First Aid should be sought immediately. [Gee, ya think?]
- Many hospitals and ambulance vehicles carry the Red-back anti-venom. [No mention is made of anyone carrying Wolf spider anti-venom. Super.]
- If safe to do so, take the spider to the hospital for identification. [Right: chase the RAPIDLY MOVING spider, with an ICE PACK strapped to the swollen bite, while simultaneously remaining CALM, REASSURED, and AVOIDING ALL UNDUE MOVEMENT. Got it.]
I also learn that other symptoms of venomous spider bites—besides, you know, excruciating pain—include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal pain, and partial loss of muscle control. Sweating also occurs, particularly around site of the bite. Swelling of the affected area is common, as is a quickening of the heartbeat.
But not to worry: just remain calm and reassured, and avoid all undue movement while attempting to capture the spider. Also: seek immediate medical attention.
The Palace has a very strict policy that all insectoid invaders are summarily executed: squished, and then unceremoniously flushed. I had once considered putting their detached little heads on little spikes all around the Palace perimeter to deter any of their likeminded compatriots. Unfortunately, the fierce Palace guard would undoubtedly eat them, and besides, I don’t want to detract from my collection of conservative heads on spikes—it gives the Palace decor a nice medieval flair, don’t you think? Well, regardless, she would have to go. I simply cannot be granting the occasional Palace invader reprieve from the death penalty: it would make me appear “soft on crime,” and embolden my enemies. (I do have my reputation as a ruthless ruler to uphold.) Her sentence was pronounced, her fate was sealed. But I just couldn’t bring myself to squish her. She was… plump. And did I mention venomous?
So I called in the reinforcements—no, not the fierce Palace guard. She had barely even budged on the chaise, except to stretch out a little, and thus more thoroughly enjoy napping on the Palace dime during a serious Arachnid ninja assassin attack. I fired off an emergency missive, along with an iPhone picture of the doomed Wolf spider, to my Amazing Lover™:
GINORMOUS SCARY SPIDER BUG ALERT!
COME RESCUE ME!
The response was swift—although not exactly what I was hoping for:
Ugh eww yech!
*Sigh* Yes, I know. And I hadn’t even mentioned the venom part. I texted again:
Come rescue me!
Back came the reply I was looking for:
And soon my Amazing Lover™ was flushing her unceremoniously down the Palace toilet. “But what it she doesn’t stay down the toilet?!” I shrieked helpfully, from the relative safety of the far side of my bed. My fevered imaginings were much worse than my Google results.
“We’ll keep flushing,” came the reply, along with another flush to punctuate it.
“For, like, ever?” I was fully prepared to do whatever was necessary to insure she would not return with a vengeance, take up lodging under the Palace toilet seat, and… complete her mission in the worst possible way.
“No,” my Amazing Lover™ replied patiently, “That should do it, but well flush a few more times, just to be sure.” We poured half a bottle of bleach in the bowl, and left it there while we went out to dinner. Just to be really sure.
My thoughts turned to how in the world an Arachnid ninja assassin gained access to the inner sanctum of the Palace. Did she stow away with my laundry? (A Wolf spider would hardly be the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in the Palace laundry room—the award for that particular honor goes to someone’s used maxi-pad, which I discovered in an otherwise empty washer. I do hope you people with your own washers and dryers appreciate how good you have it.)
A scarier question still: who had sent her on her final, fatal mission? What nefarious forces were plotting to inflict excruciating pain on your humble and benevolent monarch? It must be those dastardly conservatives! Who else would have a motive? Clearly, this must mean the Palace is getting very close to discovering the cure for Conservative Personality Disorder!
Also: I’m thinking our security might need a few tweaks.