Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spiders and Snakes and Karma

My house is over-run with cobwebs right now. I just can't bring myself to sweep them away. Our little house spiders aren't hurting anyone. In fact, they are providing a useful service by catching all those nasty flies and mosquitoes that have also found their way inside.

Spiders good, flies and mosquitoes bad.

I have a soft spot for these spiders that, through no fault of their own, have somehow wound up in our home rather than outdoors where they belong. They didn't ask to be here, they just lost their way. Why should I kill them when they aren't causing any trouble? I know it sounds silly, but I just can't justify taking the life of something that is simply minding its own business. My children laugh at me when they see me take a tissue and gently trap the spider inside it, then take it outdoors and set it free.

But it's a whole different story with any critter that MIGHT cause harm. For instance, where I live in Northern California, the dreaded Black Widow spider strikes fear into the hearts of children and grown men alike. We have a few of those in our yard.  Probably more than a few, but I choose to live in denial. (That's true about life in general, but we'll save that for another time.) They hide under ledges and flower pots and can strike when you least expect it.  I have no qualms about killing them. Well, that is not entirely true. I still feel guilty when I have to snuff out a life, but I do it anyway because I simply can not have that kind of danger lurking around my home. Just a few days ago I had to kill one that was living on a plant by our front door. I begged my teenage son to come do it for me, but he was too lazy to get up off the couch and put his shoes on. It had to be done quickly because those wily creatures know when you have spotted them, and they disappear in the blink of an eye. They are masters at hide and seek. I had no spider spray handy, and we have found that doesn't always work anyway, so I had to stomp on it. I can still see my shoe lifting and coming down on that poor spider's back, and this vision has haunted me for days. But I had to do it! Lord, please forgive me.

I feel that same remorse anytime I have to kill anything. Ants, flies, mosquitoes and yes, even cockroaches, the most disgusting creature on planet Earth, maybe even in the entire universe. That is why I like spiders. They do the killing for me-- all in the name of survival. The whole food chain thing is ok by me. I'm down with that.

I won't kill mice though. Those traps are inhumane. We had mice once. Lots of them. I asked my husband to please buy the live traps and I promised I would deal with the result. We caught several, and I took the traps outside and let them go in a field near our house. Now that I think about it, maybe those "several" mice were/was actually the same one returning for more free cheese.

One time we woke up to find a real live bat on our living room ceiling! Now that is nothing to mess around with. When a bat finds its way into your house, something is probably wrong with it, and we all know that something could be rabies. I had to call animal control to come get it. I didn't know that animal control, once they captured it, would have to euthanize it to test if for rabies. I still feel horrible about that. But what choice did I have?

Luckily we have never had a snake in our house or in our yard, but if we did, I wouldn't wish it dead. I would run screaming to the nearest phone to call animal control and let them deal with it.

I'm ok with my soft-hearted ways, even if others think I'm foolish. Compassion for all living creatures is a major tenet of many religions. Do unto others ... even if the others are spiders and snakes. It creates good Karma. What comes around goes around. We all share the Earth and we must keep in mind that each small action by one has a ripple effect on others. Killing something for no good reason--well, that could just come back to you in a pretty bad way. Think about that!

So the song that has been in my brain while writing this is this oldie but goodie by Jim Stafford. Lordy, am I dating myself!


  1. I'm with you on most of this, MA. Not all (water bugs, cockroaches, bws, mosquitoes.. all gotta go). In our house, Jim handles them all and is fully in the preserve life camp. We've also been known to wipe out ants when they've gotten out of control, but favor the slightly less brutal 'here, take this poison back to your colony approach,' which, wow, while not as violent on our end is pretty pesticidal on their end, now that i stop to consider it. Jim and Peter also took a vacuum cleaner once to an invasion of teeny tiny beetles that came in by the hundreds one day and haunted us for about a week...

    What's nice in those cases is that we have the entomology dept available to us in Davis and they seem to be willing to demystify some of these insect things.

  2. My mother always said that spiders were the sign of a "happy house" and for that reason I never kill them, but instead try to relocate them, ever so gently, outside (much to the dismay of my youngest who is terrified of them).

  3. Haha! You are so sweet and kind...I really hate it when I ruin a perfectly beautiful spiderweb in my garden. I know how you're feeling! Once we had a baby oppossum run into our room behind the garage. It got so scared it ran and hid up into John's speakers. I finally shoo'd it out with a broom, and it curled up on the door mat and played 'possum! The next morning, thankfully, it was gone!

  4. I can't kill anything. I may chase them for awhile but I always find a way to capture and release. My kids think I've lost a screw.

    Have you ever heard of the Cockroach Museum in Plano, Texas? A wild little place where they have real deceased cockroaches dressed up in costumes. There is Liberoachi...he has a white mink cape and is playing a tiny piano...or Ross Peroach and Marilyn Monroachi. Pretty funny, but someone has too much time on their hands!

    Glad there are a couple of us who save the little creatures. Nice post!

  5. Ahh, such kindred spirits here! Thank you my friends. It is good to hear your stories too. Annie, are you serious? I am sooo grossed out by cockroaches, just the vision of one in costume is giving me the willies! I shouldn't have read this right before going to bed!

  6. Seems like whenever a spider crosses in front of me in my house, usually while I'm sitting "on the throne", I do NOT have shoes on and I'm NOT wearing my glasses. But I can still detect a little black movement skittering across my field of vision. My plan to deal with the "movement": I keep a stack of magazines on the counter. When a spider is stupid enough to move, I throw a magazine on it and jump on the magazine. My husband picks up the magazines later and cleans up the corpses. Sorry I had to reveal my Rambo side, but I don't want them sitting on my head while I sleep at night.

  7. Ha ha ha! Thanks, Lorraine for that lovely story and visual I forgive you. :-)

  8. Micheal Ann, I think you're to be commended for having such a compassionate nature! So rare in these modern times! :) I also do not have it in me to kill anything. The other day a moth made its way into our room and sat on the edge of the closet door. In spite of the fact I shuddered at the thought it would house itself permanently in my clothes, I called the Significant Other so he could dispose of it. Needless to say, he had to get a glass jar and a piece of cardboard to trap it and then let it out into the cool night air. :)

  9. I love this post! It reminded me of when my sisters and I were little and my mom kept a spider web and the egg sack so that she could show us the life cycle and because we had just seen the movie Charlotes Web!!! I always feelt guilty if I have to kill a bug and do my best to avoid it! (Though I did live in NYC and I must confess to killing a few cockaroaches, but I never liked it!) Thanks for a sweet read!!

  10. First, I wish I hadn't read this right before my bedtime because now my head is itching and I'll have to check the floor and under the bed for bugs and creatures. I don't think I am as compassionate for creepy crawlers as you are.. if I can show them the door I will, but if they are big and scary, I can't say that I'd save their lives. Don't hold it against me though as I have other positive traits.

  11. I have to admit I'm not so humane when those critters make their way into our house. My daughter is convinced that every spider she sees is a brown recluse. Since I don't know one spider from another (ok, I admit I don't want to get close enough to identify one) all 4, 6, and 8-legged creatures are the enemy. They have all outdoors. I have just my 2000 sq. feet. But to compensate, most of the time I garden without poisons because the outdoors belongs to all God's creatures.

  12. Oh yeah, I understand. Critters share our world and even if they seem rude sometimes- killing is, well, overkill.

    Fun post!

  13. I have the same soft spot for creatures. Except I'm not as diligent in abiding by it as you are. We had a severe mouse problem in our apartment and then again in our new house (maybe they're following us). We had to use the traps. They ended up in our silverware drawer, our dishes, my son's toys. It was bad. Having lived in FL, I remember being terrified of spiders, thinking they were all black widows (who knows). I'm glad to have found a fellow sensi (as in super sensitive person), even if I'm slacking in my duties.


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