If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then you perhaps will have the experience I did yesterday morning. I stepped outside, slipped on my garden shoes, picked up my garden gloves, grabbed my trowel, all left on the ground and deck where I worked all day the day before in my new native plant border.
Two days ago I amended the soil with compost and top soil, edged the border, planted shrubs and several Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), leaving the containers scattered when darkness fell at the end of the day. Yesterday, before any garden labor could begin, I began to tidy up the area by stacking the empty pots that littered the ground.
I did a double take and skipped a heartbeat or two when I glanced inside one of the pots:
Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. I have spent my life trying to conquer Arachnophibia and here I was inches away from a young member of one of the most feared spiders in North America. She slowly lifted her legs allowing me to view the vivid red hourglass on her abdomen. Goosebumps. “Spiders are our friends…” I repeated several times. “Be rational. These spiders are not overly aggressive.”
What did I do? I’m not a person who kills insects randomly but I felt I had no choice here. I killed her with a stick… a very long stick!
Black Widows have very strong venom but only deliver minor bites due to their small jaws. However, the toxin they inject, although usually not fatal except for the very young or elderly, can cause significant pain affecting the nervous system. If you have been bitten, go immediately to the emergency room or call 911.
For the rest of the day, I jumped when a blade of grass brushed against my ankle or the breeze tousled my hair. I glanced inside my shoes, my gloves and anything else lying about (several times) before I wore them or picked it up. After all there are 200 eggs in each egg sac laid by the mother. I want to know where the 199 others are lurking….
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester