Sunroom Insectarium

Scorpion on left, sun spider on right.

“Men should stop fighting amongst themselves and start fighting insects.”

Biologist Luther Burbank.

Spiders are creepy, black widows are sinister, and nothing will whip me into an insecticidal frenzy like a thick, greasy trail of ants. Yet, recently, I have become impervious to the horrors of creeping and crawling things. While Tanya visited us, I spent thirty days sleeping in the sunroom.

The sunroom hosts six oversized and under-insulated windows, a leaky door to the backyard and the grand entrance for all living things with more than two legs—the dog door. The dog door combined with pesticide-free living, has turned our sunroom into a resort for the six and eight-legged crowd.

I never thought about the insect carcasses scattered in the sunroom. Their crinkly little husks were one more thing to sweep into a dustpan.  Now that I sleep there, I am beset by creepy-crawlies. My introduction the Arthropoda party began with black beetles.

My second morning in the sunroom, I awoke to bedclothes peppered with black, lifeless rice-size bugs.  Initially, I was alarmed, assuming the tiny bugs were mouse droppings. Now I know that every few nights handfuls of minuscule beetles end their lives with me as I sleep.

New Mexico scorpion, Wikimedia Commons.

One incident occurred during the full moon as I read short stories. From the corner of my eye, something scrabbled from Misty’s water bowl to the middle of the room. A scorpion. To whisk it safely out the back door, I fetched the dust mop. I hate to kill anything (except ants). Sadly, my efforts were useless. The scorpion took a brief, squeal-inducing excursion over my left little toe, and skittered for the safety of the adjoining library. I mashed it repeatedly before it could become a threat to dog or baby.

Sun spider close-up, thanks to David~O , Creative Commons Licence

The sun spider episode required husband intervention. Sun spiders are great, gangly devils that move like the wind. I’m not sure if they are poisonous, but they look deadly. Hairy, plump, at least four inches long, a sun spider zigzagged across the sunroom floor, surprising me. I’d seen nothing like it—a scorpion-spider mashup with a dash of xenomorph. Brrrr. But I tried to coax it out the back door with the dust mop. With CGI swiftness, it whizzed up a wall, where I smacked at it. The sun spider fell on me. I shrieked. And if sun spiders could shriek, I am certain it shrieked as well. Shaking, I fetched Egor, who removed it with a tissue after a futile (and comical) broom chase.  

Another night as I read in bed, a largish wolf spider skittered up the side of my mattress. She scurried up the blanket covering my knees and stopped atop them as if to contemplate the mystery of not making me scream. Then she hurried away to the wall where she disappeared behind blinds. Three days later, she made the same expedition, right over me and my blankets, and vanished under the mattress.  I rescued the little lady from certain squashing, liberating her in the garage to feast on crickets. I laughed. I was becoming tougher. If I stay here much longer, what courage will I build? Or rather, what horrors will the universe send to me next?

ETA: To quench your curiosity, please visit W.P. Armstrong’s site. I cannot share their images due to copyright, but the photos are breathtaking!

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