The garage was filled with all sorts of items abandoned but not discarded. There were cardboard boxes filled with shoes, a barrel filled with fishing poles of various kinds, a child’s toy box filled with rusty tools and bicycles with flattened tires. The shelves contained an old bird cage, bottles of half filled weed killers, oil cans and boxes of cans of spray paint.
The house was half brick and the upper part wood painted white. It had stood underneath dozens of huge willow oak trees for centuries. Its roof was in need of repair, the gutters needed to be cleaned out, and spider webs filled every nook and cranny.
Mr. Wells had become ill and was no longer able to work. The two children had married and moved away. There was no one interested in cleaning out the garage or repairing all the worn items around the house. Mrs. Wells was a petite lady who loved to garden. She kept her flowers trimmed and watered. Every year she had a small garden filled with tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and lettuce. It was something she liked to do and it was a form of exercise to keep her fit.
The grandchildren had finished college and came to spend some time during the summers. It was on a hot summer day in July that Joey decided to come and help clean up around the house. He decided that he would have a yard sale and get rid of most of the items left in the garage. It would help his grandparents and make him some extra spending money for the summer trip to the beach.
“Watch out for spiders and snakes!” Mr. Wells called out from the back door leading to the garage. “If you find any gold it belongs to me!” He said with a wink.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If I have a good sell I might make a couple hundred dollars out of all this junk.” Joey replied as he began to search through the boxes.
“Better have everything on the tables by six o’clock in the morning because people who go to yard sells are early risers.” Mrs. Wells added as her feet stepped down the steps and into the garage.
“Golly dang something just nicked my finger. It was probably this rusty handsaw.”
“Is it bleeding? His grandmother asked.
“No it will be ok. I’m a tough dude Granny.” Joey answered as he rubbed his finger.
Little did Joey know that a huge black widow had made her nest down inside the cardboard box. It wasn’t long until Joey began having trouble breathing and became sick on his stomach. His finger began to swell and ache.
Black widow spiders are black with a red hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. They are not aggressive and normally only bite when accidentally squeezed or touched. Elderly people, children and people who are allergic to the venom are normally the only ones that suffer traumatic experiences from the bites.
The animals most at risk from the black widow’s bite are insects and the male black widow spiders. After mating with a male spider the female black widow will often eat the male by ripping his head off. She mates once a year and then stays to herself after the violent mating ritual.
“Did you know that the female black widow spins a large web and suspend a cocoon in it filled with hundreds of eggs? She eats flies, mosquitoes, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other small insects.” Mr. Wells asked his grandson as they left to go to the urgent care facility.
“They are comb-footed spiders, meaning they have bristles on their hind legs that they use to cover their prey with silk once it has been trapped.” He continued.
“I knew they poked a hole in their prey with their fangs and suck out the victim’s body fluids.” Joey replied. “I just didn’t see the little bugger down in that box.”
“You should have been wearing gloves!” His grandmother cautioned.
The doctor gave Joey an medication called antivenin to fight the venom in the spider’s bite and Joey recovered in a few days. His finger did swell and hurt for a while but there were no lasting effects.
It is always a good idea when cleaning out old boxes and junk to wear gloves. Remember to tear down old spider webs. A good simple household item to use to keep spiders away is Borax. Remind your parents so they will not be BITTEN!!!
Written by Sybil Shearin
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