Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This Means War!

I was sitting in the salon last night, at the dinette, working on my laptop. The cabin was dim.  A flicker of movement made me shift my eyes, and I watched as a very large spider lowered itself, slowly and deliberately, in front of my screen.  Its narrow body was the size of a pen cap.  Its long, crooked legs waved menacingly.

The spiders on this boat are getting bolder every day.  This means war!

Spiders are notoriously common on boats.  There are so many tiny crevices where they can hole up by day.  And there’s an endless supply of food, in the form of tiny flies. How do they get ON the boat? They may crawl aboard when you dock, using your mooring lines like gangplanks, but usually, they just parachute in, using tiny strands of silk like hot-air balloons.
Why there are so many spiders:  There's lots of food,
in the form of tiny flies.  (Don't wear black while
aboard or you'll get "fly dandruff")

Each morning I diligently hunt down spiders with my whisk broom. I destroy the webs, and I feed the webspinners to the fishes, completing the Great Circle of Life.  But lately I’ve been wondering, when I send the big spiders overboard, am I just opening up their environmental niches so NEW spiders can move into their territories?

The Cap’n—who is probably tired of my sudden shrieks when spiders appear in unexpected locations and my plaintive requests for his manly protection--went to a marine supply store and bought me a large spray can gaily festooned with nautical flags.  The label reads: “Captain Phab: Domestic Spider Control. Kills Spiders on Contact! (Read Label Before Using.)”

On the back of the can, the fine print says that the stuff is deadly to spiders--and also to humans, to little children, to domestic animals, and especially to fish.  (So  . . . you spray it on your boat, and then you never, ever wash your boat again?)

“Care should be taken to avoid depositing the product onto surfaces or introducing the material into the air,” the label says (emphasis added).  Great.  This is a spray can. If I’m not supposed to introduce it into the air, how do I spray it?  And if I can’t spray the stuff on surfaces, where do I spray it?  Onto individual spiders?  Have you seen how fast those suckers move?

I went online, to a boater’s forum, to look for other approaches to spider control.  Aside from the “Nuke ‘em with hazardous chemicals” approach, I noted these alternate spider control methods:

1)    “One medium-sized cat should do the job.”
2)    “Teach your children to be entomologists and they’ll collect the spiders for you. (First  lesson, class:  “How to identify the brown recluse and the black widow.”)
3)    “There’s an electronic device that repels spiders.”  (Next post in the forum: “Yeah,   our marina has one.  It’s covered with spiderwebs.”
4)    “Just relax and enjoy the spiders.  My Harley Davidson has a couple of resident   ‘extreme sport’ spiders who’ve been riding with me all summer.”  (Yeah, I'll show the   spiders some extreme sports, all right.)
 And finally . . .
5)    “I use a digital approach to spider control. Take two digits, pinch the spider between them, discard.”

Aha, so THAT’s how you use the can of spider spray!  Apply five digits to can, suspend can over spider, apply pressure.  Repeat.  The label says, "Kills spiders on contact."

Hey, Captain, can you come in here a second? There’s a seriously big spider over here . . .


  1. I've been laughing about your spider posts. If you recall, at a young age I was your personal ninja spider control service.

  2. I'm forever in your debt. Be proud of me, I've become much braver through necessity.