Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spider + man

The millions of people who have faithfully and frequently read my Paris blog know that I have a tacit memorandum of understanding with a spider (or spiders) residing in a designated compound behind the bathtub. This understanding essentially provides that I won't bother the spider if the spider does not bother me. As long as she remains within her compound, all is well.

Unfortunately, I was rather surprised today while taking a shower to see that Miss Spider had crossed the demarcation line. She appeared to be working on some sort of new, forbidden structure outside the compound, near the bathroom door. Unfortunately, this violated our agreement, and I was compelled to take action—with heavy heart, to be sure. I launched a chemical attack with a spray bottle of window cleaner containing alcohol. Miss Spider immediately grabbed her safety escape line and slipped down to the ground, then attempted to make a run for it back into her under-tub lair. She wasn't quick enough to avoid a few additional salvos of death from above, and while she managed a retreat under the bathtub (this is a cast iron, enameled bathtub, by the way), my later reconnaissance revealed that she had expired, clutching a piece of cardboard.

I wasn't happy about this, but I had little choice: had I not terminated her excursion, she might have become ever more bold, and the idea of a spider more than an inch across scampering around my room at night made me uncomfortable. Spiders are supposed to stay in places where I never go, like inaccessible corners. There they are welcome to set up their webs and catch all the insects they can eat. Spiders and I work well together as long as we respect our territorial boundaries, and their insect-control services are most welcome. It's sad to see one of them go. I don't know how many others remain in the compound.

It would be nice, though, if some of them would take a tour through the kitchen and pick up some other pesky bugs. I've seen more than one silverfish zooming around in the kitchen (at least I think there's more than one), and it seems to me that these little wingless insects would make a tasty meal for a hungry spider. Unlike spiders, silverfish are quite a nuisance, because they like to eat sugar and starch, and thus are sorely tempted by papers, books, and kitchens. They are harmless, but their interests conflict with mine, as the Godfather would say. Spiders are not great consumers of silverfish, but they've been known to partake of them, and certainly they're welcome to do so where I live.

Hopefully a new spider will take up the duties of Miss Spider, this time without stepping outside her compound (except maybe to the kitchen annex, although I admit that requires either climbing to great heights or making a substantial trek through the main room). In the meantime I'm going to have to find something that specifically targets silverfish. No other bugs cause trouble, except the occasional mosquito from outside. Once in a while I see a fly, but I suspect that Miss Spider sees flies a lot more than I do, especially on her dinner table.

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