I know this one – cane spider who has been living in our bathroom for weeks. When first I encountered the species, it was twenty years ago on Moloka’i. My husband was so distressed, this gentle man removed one of his slippers (island vernacular for flip-flops) and set about trying to beat it to death, albeit unsuccessfully. Frenzied folks rarely rally to reason, and my words of protest fell like rain leaching into porous ground.
About medium sized like some grander, fleshier dock spider, these shy creatures do not weave webs, nor do they bite humans. Handily enough they do eat cockroaches, mostly I suspect the small tan German ones. I have never actually seen this happen and am only repeating what I’ve heard. Still, it’s solid enough reason to let them live, even to encourage them, if that were possible.
I am not in favor of killing sentient beings, including insects. I’ve even shooed mosquitoes rather than smashing them as they draw blood from my limbs. Yet until you’ve experienced a fat three inch roach, Pariplaneta americana, tentacles flailing as it flies into your long tangle of hair – oily from the poison you just shot at it in a futile attempt to end its miserable existence – you can only dream of its possible adversaries. These creatures are expert scuttlers and defy any form of capture and release, in my experience.
So why am I compelled to seek out a harmless reclusive spider, my potential ally? Why can’t I simply live side by side with it, knowing it will stay out of my way?
I’ve always been fascinated by arachnids – their delicate furry bodies, their complex gossamer webs. As a young woman in the Maine woods, I’d recline on my stomach and gaze into their eyes. I would swear we had a connection. Yet there is something unsettling about lying down at the end of a long day to drift into blessed sleep, knowing the potential for small things with furry legs to creep across my dormant form. I wouldn’t call it fear exactly, though it surely isn’t comforting.
The moment is nigh – bark brown body skittering up Yarmouth blue wall. Deftly I remove my shirt, ball it up – a gentle transport for the timid creature. By the time I am able to secure it in the fabric’s folds however, I have inadvertently injured one or more of its appendages. I regard this apparent fact with a pang of regret – noticing its inert form clustered on the floor. With ease now, I shuttle it out to the deck.
Later I return to witness a static husk, huddled in the same broken position.