September 23, 2010

Speaking of Spiders...

Let me introduce you to one of our many house guests.

(Sorry Chally... please don't hate me for this picture. No worries, this particular spider is no longer with us, and there is an entire ocean between you and his buddies... that is, until you come visit us.)

So one morning, shortly after we moved into this house, I got out of the shower, grabbed my towel and proceeded to dry off. As I was drying my shoulders, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I did a double take and realized that a huge brown spider was crawling on my towel. I reacted in the way one would be expected to react in such a situation. I screamed and threw my towel on the floor, and then panicked because I lost sight of the spider in all the commotion. I can't remember what happened after that, but I do remember that was the morning I realized living in Germany was going to be very much the same as living in the northwestern United States when it comes to spider situations. 

You see, I assumed that this spider was none other than the dreaded hobo that plagued almost every residence I took up during my adult life, until we moved to Korea. In Korea we only had some kind of locust. We called them crickets, but I don't know if that's what they really were. They just hopped around the house until we could catch them, and I knew they were harmless so they didn't bother me very much. The scary spiders stayed outside.

I first learned of the hobo spider sometime during my early adolescence, I think. My cousins spoke of the  hobos and their potentially fatal bites, and how they dwelt in basements and especially liked cardboard boxes, and the phrase "hobo spider" was permanently imprinted in my brain right next to the word "danger." I had, at that point in time, never actually seen a hobo spider that I knew of, but by the time I'd given birth to our first child, hobos had become a very unwelcome part of my life.

The first two apartments Hub and I lived in after getting married had "hobo problems." One morning, I was making our bed in our small studio apartment and a hobo crawled out from under our bedspread. After that incident, I checked under the sheets every night before getting into bed for years. Literally years.

Even though I hated the fact that hobos couldn't seem to stay out of my life, I felt bad about killing them, so I usually made Hub catch them and let them go outside. That was early in our marriage, so he actually would do it just because I wanted him to. :)

Things changed after we had our first baby. Hobos were a danger to my child, therefore hobos were destroyed.

Truth be told, I have no first-hand knowledge that hobo bites are actually dangerous. I don't think I even know anyone who has been bitten by one. But like I said, "hobo" and "danger" have practically been synonymous terms to me for many years now. So when I started seeing what appeared to be huge hobo spiders in our home here (the one above was actually on the door frame into the kids' bedroom one night), my motherly instinct to protect my children caused the demise of several of these creepy-crawlies. 

I decided I wanted to find out if these things actually were hobos, so I did some research, and based on my research, I've decided that our guests are actually giant house spiders. Turns out that in Europe, hobo spiders live out in the fields. They stay away from human dwellings. Apparently, they have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with their relatives, the giant house spiders, who tend to eat them. Oh, and giant house spiders are harmless to humans.

(So you'll still come visit us... right, Challis?)

I'm trying to change my attitude toward these spiders. I'm trying to think of them as something like family pets, rather than enemies. I mean, I guess they're kind of handy to have around if they keep the hobos away. Plus, I feel pretty bad about killing something if there is no good reason to. But it's hard... these spiders are just so HUGE and they look just like hobos on steroids. And every time I see one, all of my positive thoughts about them run and hide in some dark corner of my brain where I cannot retrieve them until after the spider has been "taken care of."

I kid you not, just a few minutes ago, as I was sitting here in bed writing this post, I glanced over my shoulder and just a few feet from where I'm sitting, at just about the level of my head was one of our giant brown friends. So I very calmly told Hub, who was trying to go to sleep next to me, that there was a spider on the wall, and he got up to take care of it. I'm proud to say that I told him to catch it and put it outside and he did. I'm so brave and heroic. 

ps - my research also brought to light the fact that hobo spiders are really not all that dangerous. All I want is the truth. If any one has been bitten by one or knows somebody who has, tell me about it. I want to get to the bottom of this, people. Must I live in fear of the hobo? It's getting old.

pps - how am I going to be able to sleep here tonight???


  1. Oh my goodness... that TOTALLY looks like a hobo! I'm definitely having spider nightmares tonight. I'm so sorry you have to deal with those, even if they are just "harmless" house spiders. (I don't trust them though, they look too gross!)

    FYI- Jon has been bit by a hobo spider. We lived in a rental house that was INFESTED with hobos. We would go downstairs, turn on the light and see brown spiders scurry to the edge of the carpet and burry themselves in the crevices. It was terrifyingly disgusting. Jon's bite was a pretty gross one and ate away at his skin, but he didn't die and he was the only one ever bit by one in our family.. that I know of.

  2. Let me tell you a little story. My aunt and uncle lived in Hawaii for many years, and a giant banana spider took residence in their bathroom. Because he ATE THE RATS, they decided to keep him around. They even named him Bob. Bob was around for several years. One day my grandma came to visit, and was warned that her children had welcomed an arachnid roomate into their bathroom. My grandmother was not thrilled, but she accepted the fact that there are all sorts of non-traditional family systems out there. Well...Bob formed an attachment to my grandma. And wound up in her hair.

    The moral of the story? House spiders are bad news bears (I guess, more accurately, they're bad news spiders). I say nuke em' all.

    And I will still come visit, but I'll be bringing a cat or something.

  3. Wow! This guy looks yummy... at least my little man would seem to think so. G-ma Jenni taught him spiders are nice and not "scaaawwree" and so she pretends to eat them. It's quite disterbing actually! I hope you don't run into any more of these guys! I'll pray for you and your little ones (and I totally agree with Chally!)