I just killed two Black Widow spiders. Ordinarily, I avoid killing anything, especially spiders. Sentimentally, I think of spiders as good-luck animals who capture other insects and who might be named Charlotte. But Black Widows are different. Black Widows are terrifying with their big hard shells and that hourglass “poison” sign, Black Widows are dangerous, and Black Widows definitely don’t belong in Sophie’s playspace.

I found one on my gardening gloves, gloves that Sophie had been using as hand-puppets. One under her water-table. One under our barbecue grill, that is right next to her little jungle-gym. There was also one under the toy lawnmower that I gave away last week (since Sophie had 2 toy lawnmowers, and her boyfriend had none). Sophie’s boyfriend’s mother discovered it after she got the lawnmower home from our patio — but I didn’t fully believe the black widow came from us till I discovered these other three today, and killed two.

Black widows like shade and our patio is one of the only shaded areas around here. That’s why Sophie and I like it as a place to play, too. Black widows actually don’t usually kill adults: their bite just hurts a lot, but there’s a convenient anti-venom. They’re actually not agressive, either – and they don’t regularly eat their mates, despite their name, just sometimes, occasionally. Still, they are a real risk to Sophie, who only weighs 20 pounds and doesn’t yet know quite how scared to be.

I just scrubbed our patio clean of every spiderweb I could find, especially the low-to-the-ground ones that might be Black Widows. There were webs under every lawnchair, webs in the leaves of the lilies, webs in the eaves to the patio roof, webs in the crevices to Sophie’s little jungle-gym, webs everywhere. Ben says it’s weird how the patio appears so much cleaner now, even though neither of us was consciously aware of spiderwebs there before. I’m going to be vigilant against spiderwebs on the patio for a while. But I don’t know what else to do. I’m reluctant to use poisons, and anyway I read that poisons don’t work well on Black Widows. I think thorough and consistent cleaning may be the best prevention. Any other suggestions?

Then, while sweeping away webs in the eaves, I discovered a wasp’s nest. The whole world appears more dangerous, with Sophie to protect.


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