I hate the bugs in Louisiana. I could fill many a post with the grossness of cockroaches and other nasty creepy crawlies down here, but lately my biggest enemy has been the so-called "daddy longleg" spider. I put that in quotes, because up to this point I have had a much different idea of what a daddy longleg is. At home, these spiders have wispy thin legs and itty-bitty bodies; their leg-span is rarely much larger than a half-dollar and they are easily killed with a quick swat. Not so in Louisiana.
The southeastern U.S. variety of these spiders is huge! Their leg-span diameter is usually between 3 and 5 inches (and yes, I am looking at a ruler to be sure I am not exaggerating). Not only are their legs much longer than the daddy longlegs I'm familiar with, they are also thicker and have distinct joints in them. Their bodies are about the size of two peas - maybe a circular lima bean if you're trying to picture it. Now imagine trying to kill that. Or finding it on your wall.
We have a small closed-in balcony attached to our apartment. My husband and I decided it would be nice to get a few plants for around our house and outside on the balcony – to make it a bit more homey. I picked out a great little hanging plant with chubby leaves that looked like it should be able to handle the 90+ degree weather we’ve been having. Apparently it looked like a great oasis to some daddy longleg spiders too.
Now, I generally leave these spiders alone because they don’t hurt anyone and they just kind of hang out in their one spot forever. Well, over the next few days about 5 or 6 started congregating on the beam right above this plant, and I decided it was time to do something. I was getting jittery trying to water the thing with all of them sitting up there! I have a spray bottle full of water for the plants, so I filled that up and started shooting at the spiders. They were too high up for me to swat and I really didn’t want to attempt it and have them end up falling directly on me, so this seemed like a good idea. It worked, but it took quite a lot of water to get each one to fall down. At which point I squished them of course. This took multiple swats with a fly swatter – they just lay down and then get up and run away after you’ve smacked them! I had to finish a few off with my shoe. I couldn’t get all of them to fall down, so one or two were left behind, but I was satisfied with thinning them out.
The next morning the humidity outside was so high that the windows had too much condensation on them to see out. My husband was gone on a training exercise, so my cat and I meandered to the kitchen for some breakfast. The sliding door to the balcony looked strange, but then again there was condensation covering it. My cat enjoys going out there to look at the birds and squirrels and soak up some heat, so he cried and cried at the door, until I was finally convinced to come over.
Oh. My. Goodness. There were at least 6 giant daddy longlegs on the door jamb. Their legs had made spindly designs in the fog on the door, and they were setting their bodies as closely to the crack between inside and out as they could. I swear – they have declared war ever since I killed those few above my plant! They remained there, guarding the sliding door for the next 4 days while I waited for my husband to get home to kill them. I was afraid to open the door and have them sneak in! I snapped a couple of pictures of a few – see the picture to the right.
Well… War it is. I kill every single bug I find now. Whether I’m inside or out – this place is crawling with them and anything I can do to lower the general population of nastiness here, I will do! Just yesterday, I was starting my work and for the first time there was a daddy longleg INSIDE, sprawled out above my head on our hallway wall. I got the broom and smashed that m*f*er. On the way to put the broom back, there was another one crawling by my cat’s toys. Smashed that one too. There never seems to be just one instance of a pest here. If there’s one spider inside, there’s undoubtedly another you will find in the same day. I later found out that my husband had found one in the shower that morning too!
On a different note, the heat and humidity have claimed my hanging plant as a victim. As I trucked it down to the trash can, I noticed it had other spiders lurking in the dying leaves... icky light orange ones with skinny bodies and fat heads. Yuck.