Death of the black widow

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So a few minutes ago, as my dog peed for the final time this evening, I noticed a unique spider in a web outside the house. I flashed my phone on it, and the wife said, “Is that a black widow?”

We did an image search. Yup—black widow.


Even though we’ve lived in California for five years, there’s still a lot of nature stuff that confuses me/freaks me out. The occasional snake sighting, for example. Or the regular sounds of coyotes howling as we fall asleep. In New York we’d have skunks and raccoons, but neither species was poisonous or particularly scary.

Black widow spiders? Fucking scary.

So I decided the black widow needed to die. Which brings me no joy, since I usually avoid killing bugs altogether. But these things are poisonous. And dangerous to kids. I returned inside, grabbed one of my sneakers.

“Don’t use that!” Catherine said. “What if the venom gets on the bottom and you spread it.”

I’m not sure that’s possible—but OK. I picked up a cardboard box. “You’re not trapping it, are you?” the wife said.


“Trapping it …”


I walked outside. Approached the black widow. Took the box and slowly … slowly … slowly …


The black widow is dead.

And I feel guilty.