Recently, while engulfed in writing from the comfort of my couch, something in my peripheral vision caught my eye. When I turned my head to see what it was, I notice a large black spider making its way down my vertical blinds. Its body was the size of your average shirt button. Large as far as spiders go in my area.
Now, I don’t much care for spiders and I’m not at all concerned about the political correctness of it. My dislike for spiders came about when, as a teenager, and friend of mine almost died as a result of a spider bite from a seemingly harmless wood spider that caused blood poisioning. As a result, all spiders in my house must die. It’s an unwritten rule. My warning to spiders entering my home is liken to the words found in Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon all hope, ye who enters here.”
So, along comes this spider, who obviously didn’t get the memo. When I first turned to see what it was, the spider instantly froze in its tracks. I hurried to retrieved my trusty non-PETA approved fly-swatter, fully intending on sending this spider back to his maker. The vertical blinds in my home cover a large window (about 6 feet high and 20 feet wide) which one of my couches sits in front of it and a large coffee table is situated in front of that. With fly-swatter in hand, I approached with every bad intention, ill will, and with malice aforethought. But amazingly, as I came around the coffee table, the spider turned its body to face me. “Oh no you don’t,” I declared as I cocked my arm back and slowed my approached. When I got within a foot of the spider, I fiercly swung the fly-swatter — and, at that very second, the spider LAUNCHED! That’s right! That son-of-a-bitch went airborne in my direction BEFORE I could land the “shock and awe” of my fly-swatter assault on him. It jumped from the vertical blinds, missed me, cleared my couch, cleared the coffee table, and landed on my living room floor (a good 6 feet away).
I don’t care who you are, when a spider the size of button, or any size at all for that matter, jumps at you — you’re going to be a little stunned. Spiders don’t generally come flying at you, except maybe in a movie by Ridley Scott (Alien) or John Carpenter (The Thing). We think of spiders as hanging around on webs waiting for dinner, NOT flying off after it!
Well, I quickly went to the other side of the coffee table and faced off with this newfound enemy. As soon as he saw me, he came at me again. This time, however, in a forward ground assault. Now, I have hunted wild boar in the past and they have also been known to charge at you. Not because they want to harm you, but because they can’t see very well and are just trying to escape your presence and run your way inadvertently. Spiders have eight eyes and have very good vision, so that’s no excuse. I guess this spider just harbors the same hatred of me as I do of him. After a failed thunderous shoe-stomping on my part, this spider retreated to the coffee table’s edge. You know, that little depression the coffee table makes after sinking into the carpet over a period of time. Of course, this defeated my fly-swatter and effectively disarmed me. We stared at each other for a brief second, I guess each of us studying the other trying to figure out our next move.
Now, I’m not an expert on spiders but my rule of thumb is that, if you can see that a spider has hairs on its legs, then — it’s a BIG spider. This spider not only had hairs on its legs that were easily visible but it also had a round white spot on it back as if to say, “Hit the target, I dare you.” (Gutsy). I looked around for the cat, who many times before I had just thrown in the vicinity of a spider, and like the trooper he is, he rids the house of it. Fun for him and high in protein, and I don’t have to lift a finger. But, of course, the cat was no where to be found. Determined to rid my house of this brash invader, I figured I would try to squish the spider with the straight edge of the fly-swatter, but this spider wasn’t having any of it. He turned his body to face the fly-swatter — move for move, almost mechanically. Forward, backward, sideways — never letting the fly-swatter get close enough to do him harm.
To make a long story short, one shot from a can of ant-spray and the spider curled up and died (just goes to show you, one chemical weapon can ruin your whole day).
But the story doesn’t end there. I decided to find out more about this spider. What kind of spider was it? How did it jump like it did? Was it poisonous? Was it a foreign spider who just hated Americans? (Why not, it’s only a matter of time before such hatred trickles down to the sub-species). A search of entomology sites on the Web, and it wasn’t long before I found it. Phidippus audax. Nicknamed the “Daring Jumping Spider.”
I can say with 100% certainty that whoever nicknamed this spider must of had an experience similar to mine. While not poisonous, this spider WILL jump on you, and bite! In fact, that’s how it survives. It targets other insects and pounces on them. It is also responsible for a majority of all spider bites in the United States. Common to spiders, it harbors eight eyes which are situated all over its head, with two large ones directly in front. It is said that if the eyes appear to be solid black to you, that means that the spider is looking directly at you. In that case, I have but only one bit of advice for you — DUCK!
The Daring Jumping Spider
Go ahead, take your eyes off of it — if you dare!
Tell me you wouldn’t freak out if this thing came flying at you!