According to this report, an insurgence of strange, unfamiliar spiders is thrashing and humiliating the population of black widows in Southern California.
Brown widows are less poisonous than black widows, I take this to be good news. Others, for whom more spiders is bad news no matter the strength of their poison, may disagree.
But anything that kills black widows is a blessing, in my book.
Black widows just look terrifying. During a visit to Biola University, I stayed in a hotel near the school and woke up to a strange sight. My vision was blurry, so I blinked and reached to turn on the lamp. What I saw was a black widow — unmistakeable, that red hourglass mark on her belly staring at me with the ferocity of the Eye of Sauron — waiting in a web that she had built between the lampshade and my pillow. My hand, reaching for the lamp, had somehow failed to disturb her web. So I rose very, very slowly. That upset her, and she dashed up the web, dropped to the beside table, and took refuge in a corner underneath it.
When I called the front desk, I was assured that this was the first instance of a black widow ever being found in their hotel. Uh huh. Sure.
That’s my one encounter with a black widow outside of a zoo, but it’s enough for me.
I’m fascinated by our immediate, instinctive reaction to spiders. Why is it that I jump if I see, or even think I see, a spider, but I don’t if I see a massive black beetle or a centipede?
And this brings us, of course, to a much more important question:
Before the inevitable Brown Widow movie arrives to exploit the occasion of its invasion of Southern CA — you think I’m kidding, but Arachnophobia remains a cult classic, and there are at least seven movies called Black Widow out there — which spiders are the most memorable to ever scuttle across a big screen? What is the standard that the makers of Brown Widow must surpass?