We’re ready. For Halloween, that is. And so is the holiday’s most iconic insect.
A gigantic, fuzzy, fake spider — a long-ago gift from a dear friend, who cringes at the eight-legged spinners — hangs on our front porch, designed to scare anyone with the slightest trepidation about spiders. Personally, I think the oversized ornamental critter is more cute and cuddly-looking than it is creepy.
While spiders don’t scare me, I’d still prefer they go do their holiday “decorating” outside. They are not content to simply decorate for Halloween — they persist in that web-spinning occupation year-round. But, as the temperature drops and the days shorten in fall, they inevitably crank up their construction work. Or, maybe they just move their busy activity inside, since outside food-type prey tends to become increasingly scarce.
As it is, I’ve repeatedly knocked spider webs away from the always-lit light bulb hanging overhead in our basement, which shines 24/7 unless the power goes out. And when that happens, it’s somewhat intimidating to see just how dark the back room of the basement is without that steady 60-watt beacon to light the way. On the other hand, no one notices the abundance of webbing that festoons the laundry and canning jar storage area down there.
Not that the spiders care about whether it’s light or whether it’s dark in their haunts. In the last week, I’ve swept spiderwebs out of our mailbox, found a spider in the laundry basket, had one skitter across the basement floor while feeding the cat, and saw a teeny, tiny one rappelling down a silken thread dangling over the kitchen table. The kitchen table? Can’t you find a less obvious spot, little bugger?
They also love the upper corners of all the rooms of our old farmhouse, as well as the spaces between the top edges of the Cape Cod-style curtain valances and the ceiling. And, apparently taking advantage of the fact that flies and flying insects tend to seek out light and warmth, the upper areas behind all the house curtains are also favored webbing hangouts.
Why do spiders so love sinks? For several days, as early as late August, my companion to making the morning batch of coffee at daybreak was a long-legged wolf spider, hunkered down against the stainless steel bottom of the kitchen sink. If it thought I wouldn’t notice it there, frozen like a statue, it was mistaken. But, knowing that these sizeable spiders snag and snack on lots of less-desirable buggy creatures sharing our habitat, I would inevitably try to carefully scoop it out for relocation to a safer spot. After several mornings of playing spider tag, I snagged it on a plastic lid and relocated it outside.
About that same time, one of its cousins began turning up each day in the calf nursery sink. As I was pretty sure that it was not the same spider I’d evicted from the kitchen sink, I pondered just how many spiders were running rampant during the overnight hours, their presence betrayed by the hapless ones that ventured into the sinks and couldn’t climb back out the slippery-smooth sides.
Or, maybe we really don’t want to know how many there are.
One recent, dewy, sun-splashed morning, I stepped out onto the basement porch, and spied one of nature’s lovely sights. Between a tall dahlia stem and a plant-support post, a spider had spun a picture-perfect web. Festooned with tiny droplets of dew, the intricate, symmetrical web sparkled like a brooch of twinkling diamonds.
But a closer look revealed the dark side of the beautiful web. Caught, smack in the middle, was a stinkbug, temporarily shelved for an upcoming spider picnic. While none of us are stinkbug fans, the tiny drama seemed like a play on Halloween: something so pretty and alluring that turned scary, or deadly, for the bug.
The stinkbug got tricked. The spider got the treat.
At least one critter enjoyed a happy Halloween ending.