I’m standing in my driveway directing the spray from a garden hose at mud wasp nests stuck to underside beams of the porch roof and at spider webs hanging on the wall in front of me. After I’ve knocked down both sets of insect homes I sweep dirt and leaves off the porch with a push broom. Drops of water and what I hope aren’t dislocated spiders fall down on my head and shoulders and inside my collar. I flinch and squirm and think that this isn’t a chore we used to do in Ohio at Christmas time. Snow hasn’t fallen, and there are no sidewalks to shovel or icy car windows to scrape. Instead my porch is raining spiders.
The spiders and wasps are year round porch dwellers, and recently we’ve acquired a swarm of mosquitoes. The weather has been very dry for the last few months, and the blood sucking pests have responded by going into hyper-breeding mode. We’ve no standing water anywhere on our property, so it’s a mystery where the little bastards are dropping their eggs. I wouldn’t call it a Christmas miracle, though the adults who’ve managed to slip inside like to roost in our Christmas tree when they aren’t buzzing in our ears and trying to steal our blood.
A few of the spiders that I’ve dislocated are huddled on the ground beneath the picture window of my dining room. They’re hunched over with bent legs and looked pissed off to be alive. A few have found refuge on the underside of the door frame, and one slipped inside and is crawling across my closet door. He almost looks grateful when I squish him with a tissue.
I only make our arachnid friends homeless a few times a year. They kill a significant number of bugs that congregate around our front door in hopes of finding refuge within. But the spiders eventually hang down in dense clusters from the porch roof. Their masses frighten children. A Christian missionary and his son came to our door one day, and as Dad tried to save my soul the little boy looked upward with wide eyes and a distressed look on his face. He interrupted his father by saying in a quiet voice, “Daddy, look at all the spiders!” My soul went unsaved.
And I believe that our suspended, dirty and clotted webs of long legged bug killers invite flyers from realtors who want to buy our house “as-is”. So I purge them when their clustered colonies draw comparisons between our house and the decrepit mansion in “The Addams Family”.
But I don’t blame the spiders for costing me an evangelical salvation or making us the target of real estate predators. They’re trying to make a living just like I am, and I feel a twinge of guilt when I knock them down. I know, however, that given a few weeks time they will have climbed back to their perches above my porch light and picture window and will be lying in wait for flies, moths and mosquitoes. I envy their resilience.