May 15, 2006

I just picked up Dog from the kennel and right now she is out in the backyard going criZAZY. They groomed her this morning and must have used a volumizing Dog Shampoo or something because she is a giant flufferpotamus, her coat of fur seems to have tripled in pelt-width and she’s shedding massive tufts all over the yard while she propels herself across the lawn on her back.

Later, the tiny brown birds will come and meticulously pick up all the hairs in their beaks, then fly away to line hidden nests. Aw.

Dog is also very busy snorfling every square inch of the yard because while we were gone this weekend a new hole appeared under the fence, evidence that the sleek bright-eyed rat I saw a few weeks ago has returned, unable to keep away from the birdfeeder Shangri-La hanging from the side of our house. I named this rat Frank, because it sounds nicer than “the rat”, or “the carrier of filth and pestilence”.

JB is not happy about the rat. “Your Frank is back,” JB said with disgust yesterday, kicking at Frank’s tunnel. “Don’t be a hater,” I told him. “Rats. Are. GROSS,” he said, rolling his eyes and getting a shovel.

We disagree on Frank but JB and I are on the exact same page when it comes to other household pests. We were watching the Survivor finale last night (BO-ring; I wanted Cerie to win) when out of the corner of my eye I saw movement on the living room carpet, which I dismissed as being the cat slinking by, until I remembered I had just put her out. I took a closer look and my skin prickled from head to toe; my mouth tried to form the word spider but got sidetracked by the job of gaping open in slackjawed horror.

Here in the Northwest we occasionally encounter something called the Giant House Spider, which is definitely calling a spade a fucking spade. These things are indeed giant, in that they are approximately thirty feet long and have massive hairy legs designed for stepping lightly over large furniture items. Even if you aren’t normally scared of spiders, I guarantee the Giant House variety will put jelly in your knees. These aren’t bugs, they’re genetic mutations coughed up from some unspeakable dark corner of hell, and seeing one on our living room floor threw both JB and I into a full-tilt panic.

“GAH,” I brayed, pointing a shaking finger at the spider, which had frozen into a crouch, probably plotting how many of our eyeballs it could suction out with one fang-thrust. “BUH,” JB responded, leaping to his feet. We dared not take our eyes from it, because the only thing worse than a visible Giant House Spider is one that just ran off to who the fuck knows where, and JB hissed to give him something to kill it with, now. “Like what,” I blubbered, feeling around blindly for a weapon, hopefully a .357 Magnum, “like WHAT, we need to BLOW IT OUT THE AIRLOCK.”

Thank god for JB, because I couldn’t have gotten near enough to the G.H.S. to kill it, even if I had a nice long pole with a flamethrower attached to the end. JB managed to whack it with a rolled-up copy of Popular Science, bellowing forth a horrified squeak manly battle cry as he did so. I tried to photograph the remains, but even adjusting the lens to zoom in on it was too psychologically damaging and what the hell, anyway, am I going to post that godawful shit on Flickr?

I hope this arachnid was an anomaly, possibly on the run from Frank, because the idea that there’s a Mrs. G.H.S. sitting around somewhere, tapping her eight creepy-ass legs, wondering where the Mr. is and who’s going to help take care of all these eggs

Okay! Now that I’ve gone and worked myself into a pretty nice case of the heebs, I think I’ll take the boy and join Dog outside. Would you like to come visit? It’s a lovely afternoon, and I could make iced tea, and there’s really only a few rats and spiders.

Wait, where are you going?


46 Responses to “…oh my”

  1. JennB on May 15th, 2006 1:05 pm

    I would love to come over for some tea. We have something in VT called Wolf Spiders – I’m told they’re called that not because of the howling (there is none) but because they hunt in packs. *shiver*

  2. kara marie on May 15th, 2006 1:09 pm

    Dude. Once, the cat got loose in the basement and poking into a particularly dark corner I found a dead huge (probably close to the 30 feet you mentioned) WHITE SPIDER with reddish eyes. I don’t know if that creepy carcass faded to white after years of being in the dark, or if was freakish mutant zombie spider or what.



    Good job, Popular Science.

  3. Gertie on May 15th, 2006 1:10 pm

    well thanks a *shudder* LOT ladies, you have BOTH given me the *shudder* creeps so bad that I have to *shudder* go take a hot shower. Wuh-heh-huh.

  4. Chiara on May 15th, 2006 1:12 pm

    As you know, I have super spider powers so next time I come over for tea I will make sure to round them all up and put them outside for you. (I did tell you about the spider nest I found behind my bed once, right? And the dead rat in my toilet that one other time? I am now immune to the critter-induced heebs, I think).

  5. Kaire on May 15th, 2006 1:15 pm

    I’ll stay here, thanks …. but it’s quite a *lovely* invite :)

  6. Niki P. on May 15th, 2006 1:18 pm

    GAH is right. I found a little dead mouse in the horse’s grain box this morning. I did a pitiful scream thing before I realized it was dead!

  7. TB on May 15th, 2006 1:25 pm

    Thank you for not posting a link.

  8. stephanie brown (alwaysworried) on May 15th, 2006 1:42 pm

    oh dear god, good to know what those things are called finally. i had just moved back home to my parents for about umm all of a month and decided screw this i’m getting my own place. yea i dont have much money so i didnt mind having to go to a not so decent place just as long as i didnt have a fucking curfew at 20 years old….
    first thing i found in the sink was one of those bastards. i called the complex and asked them for a new apartment in a new complex….thank god the woman understood my plight.
    and i would love to visit! sounds like fun! i can give your poor son all of my sinus headaches and sneezy sniffly acheyness. :) j/k i like him too much

  9. Donna on May 15th, 2006 1:43 pm

    Keep in mind that wherever you have rats or mice, you will have snakes that will come in to eat them.
    I actually would have liked to have seen the size of this spider though, feel free to post away.

    We have centipedes and vinegarettes, and what they call a child of the earth here, they are all some scary shit too.

    Poor dog, that’s funny!fg

  10. zanie on May 15th, 2006 1:44 pm

    I live in the PNW as well and when a spider loping across the carpet is big enough to cast a g-damn shadow, I get a wee bit grossed out, especially when it then squeezes through the 6″ gap under the woodstove and out of sight!

    I also have seen my share of “Franks.” I actually believe we have a “Frank” under our deck as the dog food disappears very rapidly if left out, way too rapidly to be explained away by a blue jay or crow. I happen to side with your husband on this as the last thing I want to come face to face with when I let the dog out in the dark is two beady eyes peering at me over the edge of the bowl.

    Blah! Gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

  11. Caitlin on May 15th, 2006 1:45 pm

    Ahh! In Louisiana we have the vile Palmetto bug, which is like 4 inches long (I’m SERIOUS!) and everyone tells my pansy Northern ass they’re “harmless” and “not roaches.” Whatever, they’re freakin huge, like insect rodents! Our cat is no help–bats them once, then romps off to fall asleep in a sunbeam somewhere.

  12. Amanda on May 15th, 2006 2:22 pm

    And to think we’re actually planning to move up to Washington! Sure you guys brag about the coffee and the rain, but no one ever tells you about the giant house spiders!

  13. Kathryn on May 15th, 2006 2:24 pm

    eesh…I had a GHS run AFTER me once! You cannot convince me that “they’re more scared of you than you are of them” when they’re chasing me out of my living room. Besides, wtf do they have to be scared of?? They know I’m not getting close enough to them to kill them!

  14. Kelly on May 15th, 2006 3:00 pm

    I firmly believe that spiders should NOT EXIST that require more than one heel stomping (with or without a magazine/book between your heel and the bug. We have spiders – I don’t know what they are but the bastards require several stomps and I am a big enough lady that I give serious stomps. I don’t *CARE* if they’re good for the ecosystem or whatever. NOT EXIST.

    I’m grateful for you that JB is your spider-killer. I kill the wasps for my husband and he saves me from all the other bugs (except during the day when he’s not home and I have to because they are *not* surviving in my house with me and my son). I save his life, he saves mine. It works. :)

  15. fifi on May 15th, 2006 3:34 pm

    I am not a huge spider fan, either. In our old house, we occasionally get large house spiders, too. For evicting them, without risking (ew) actual contact(ew), or killing them, we keep a feather duster. If the spider is on the ceiling, or on a wall, you insinuate the feathers gently under it, and it will usually end up somewhere in among them. Then you carry the spider outdoors, very carefully, still in the feather duster. Once outside, you give the duster a really vigorous shake, which will dislodge the spider. Preferably over a wall/fence, into a neighbouring garden. Keep an eye out for its mate afterwards, so you can repeat the process. Rats, we don’t have. Borrow a terrier from someone?

  16. angela on May 15th, 2006 3:38 pm

    when i moved out of my parent’s house, i was obsessed and petrified by the idea of killing spiders by myself in my apartment in which i lived alone, and OMG, if you don’t hear from me every 24 hours, someone please call in the SWAT Team.

    A couple days after i moved in, i recieved a housewarming present from a friend via FedEx: a bug vacuum. that thing has saved me from various GHS on countless occaisions. I highly reccommend getting one for each room.

  17. Jem on May 15th, 2006 3:39 pm

    Growing up, one of my biggest fears was maybe someday living alone for a while, because then WHO would catch the spiders? Who?

    We don’t have huge spiders over here really (and by saying that I am destined to see one later today) but we have wetas. Cockroaches are bad enough (and I always find them in this house) but wetas petrify me. I cannot put on a gumboot without getting someone else to try it on first…they are known for hiding in gumboots and then biting the person who puts the shoe on. Or just scaring them to death.

  18. Jane on May 15th, 2006 4:15 pm

    Ooh yah, I agree with Jem on the Wetas, those things are freaky. I always used to kick my gumboots over then shake them furiously before I put them on. I figured kicking them around a bit would loosen anything in there and if I picked them up upside down – nothing can jump ‘up’ at me.

    But then, we moved to Australia and not too long after settling into a house on acreage we wandered downstairs one morning to find a bird eating spider or something on one of our windows. INSIDE. I kid you not, this thing was the size of a dinnerplate – legs not fully extended. We all sort of ran around in circles (or at least, us girls did, Dad grew up in Oz so he’s used to the kreepies) and we ended up just taking out one of the windows beside the thing and letting it make it’s own way out.

  19. Melissa on May 15th, 2006 4:19 pm

    Holy crap! Cirie should have won, but at least it wasn’t Danielle that took the winnin’s.

    There used to be a rat in my parents’ back yard, which we lovingly dubbed the California Citrus Bear. It at the peel from off a few lemons and calling it a bear made it far cuter.

  20. Tess on May 15th, 2006 4:46 pm

    I know about those crazy GHS! My friend is in Thailand and she was able to see a spider from accross the street that was unable to compare to the gianormity of the GHS. Heaven help you, friend.

  21. Heidi on May 15th, 2006 4:54 pm

    My husband alerts me whenever a Giant House Spider makes an appearance so I can scoop it up and deposit it outside. Although one time he busted me shooing the “little guy” under the fridge when it was particulary cold outside. He was not amused and didn’t want to hear any propaganda about how they eat all the other spiders. Even the 15lb. cat is too intimidated to kill them…

  22. fendel on May 15th, 2006 5:48 pm

    Awww… I was hoping for a photo of the Flufferpotamus. I just love Dog.

  23. Lorraine on May 15th, 2006 6:11 pm

    I hear you Amanda. We’re moving to Seattle next month. NO MENTION WHATSOEVER about these mutant arachnids. Maybe I can convince DH to commute across the border every day.

  24. Justine on May 15th, 2006 7:08 pm

    Hi Sundry!

    If Arachniphobia is your thing, consider yourself lucky you are not an Australian resident! I live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney (god’s country) and not only do we have lots of spideys hanging out in our house, we also have snakes, bats, possums and bandicoots as regualr visitors.
    Just the other day I found two spiders and a dead bandicoot in my swimming pool – not to mention being narrowly missed by a swooping kookaburra wanting a morning bath. Yeah – I know, move over Steve Irwin – Crikey!!!

    I also wanted to say that greedy as it is, I am loving the fact that I can now get a double dose of your delicious musings on life. Thanks for your great blogs – they are my favourite read.

  25. entropic ankh on May 15th, 2006 7:11 pm

    the first spider i found in my tub when i came to new mexico was a black widow. then in october, all the tarantulas are on the move. even after living in close quarters with black widows and tarantulas, your GHS’s still scare the livin’ daylights outta me.

  26. Sue on May 15th, 2006 7:17 pm

    I want to see the pictures!! :)
    Your vacation pictures were beautiful!
    Thanks for all the great posts lately!!!! :) :)

  27. sundry on May 15th, 2006 7:28 pm

    Justine, thank you. And BANDICOOTS! So cute (BandiCUTE), but maybe not when they’re floating dead in your pool.

  28. sooboo on May 15th, 2006 7:51 pm

    Last winter we had a Frank who moved into the insulation around the oven. That I could handle (barely). Giant House Spiders? Time to move.

  29. oregoncoastgirl on May 15th, 2006 11:47 pm


    Now them’s some lovin’ words.

  30. filakia on May 16th, 2006 6:52 am

    I tried to look up Giant House Spider on e-Nature, because I have a morbid curiosity about such disgusting things, but e-Nature told me there were no matches and the biggest spider they offered for the Northwest was a Carolina Wolf Spider. Please, I would love to see a photo of the legendary Giant House Spider.

  31. b. on May 16th, 2006 7:12 am

    Ugh. Spiders.

    When I was in Jordan a couple of years ago (yes, the country…), this thing was on the bathroom wall one day:

    Not for the Squeamish

    The close-up (which is all blurry because I wasn’t getting close enough to get a good picture) is all I’ve got, so it’s hard to see scale. But it’s the biggest spider I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot.

    My husband, foolishly brave man, killed it by squishing it with a wad of shower curtain. Spider innards oozed down the wall and stayed there — even the thought of washing it off was too much for my delicate mental state. *shudder*

    Wild boars? Yes. Spiders? No way.

  32. Lesley on May 16th, 2006 8:08 am

    I had one of those in my apartment once and almost died from fright. It took many wacks of the broom to kill it and I felt so guilty because it seemed large enough to be sentient. But I couldn’t bring myself to catch it and put it outside (no tupperware large enough), which is what I usually do with spiders.

  33. Annie on May 16th, 2006 10:24 am

    When I lived in Japan, I saw a spider on my neighbor’s garage that was the size of a dinner plate. I froze in my car and considered just driving away and abandoning the house. I did decide that if it moved in, I was moving out. And we had spiders the size of 50 cent pieces in the house. Khaki ones that were hella quick. One was what I called a peek-a-boo spider. He lived behind the toilet tank and only came out when you were sitting down. Aaaagggghhhhh! I used the other toilet until I got him.

    Caitlin-I’m with you. We lived in Pensacola and encountered the Palmetto bugs. They aren’t roaches. They are Mutant Nuclear Roaches that Will Not Die. Ick.

  34. Melissa on May 16th, 2006 1:15 pm

    OH! Annie – I used to have nightmares when I was a kid that a spider would come out of the toliet when I was sitting on it!! Sundry – Great post – I could see the GHS incident unfold. Would love to see a pic of Dog “snorfling” – I had a Golden Retriever that did that too…perfect description. :)

  35. Sabine on May 16th, 2006 2:23 pm

    Even worse than the large Wolf spiders in my opinion are the Texas jumping spiders. They are not as big, but I have never jumped so high as when one of those things launched at me. GAhhhhhh it squicks me out just thinking about it.

  36. telegirl on May 16th, 2006 2:55 pm

    I’ve always wondered about those bug vacuums because spiders just FREAK me out. I was always afraid of getting them in there and having them crawl back out all pissed off to get me, until I read the description from the link in Angela’s post…

    Standard vacuums simply suck the live critters into the vacuum bag. But the Insect and Bug Vacuum goes one step further by exterminating them with a jolt of electricity inside the sealed chamber. It’s like having your own mini electric chair for bugs!

    Yeah, baby! Fry ’em!!

  37. Jessie on May 16th, 2006 3:16 pm

    I don’t think I could handle the G.H.S., like, at all. I don’t do spiders. My husband makes fun of me for it, but you should see him run when one of his least favorite creatures comes running toward him. What horrible creature would make my husband run, you ask? Why, kittens. That’s right. My manly husband is afraid of kittens. (He claims it’s their razor-sharp claws that they like to dig into his leg, but I maintain that seeing a 6-foot-2 man run from a kitten is the funniest thing I’ve ever, EVER, seen.)

  38. Meg on May 16th, 2006 3:33 pm

    I live in the middle of nowhere in Florida, we have giant “wolf spiders” and flying 5 inch roaches. I’ll trade you! I used to have a pet rat named Harry :)

  39. Sonia(DDM) on May 16th, 2006 4:13 pm

    ACK! I’m completely wigged out. Those GHS bastards are going to be the death of me. I have had 2 episodes in particular that stand out. The first huge mofo GHS I ever saw? I *heard* it walking across the linoleum before I saw it. *tap,tap,tap-tap* I turned around, screamed at the top of my lungs and then levitated into the next room. The second wasn’t quite as big, but much more traumatic. I opened the door from the house into the garage, and there was a big ass spider there. And then? He. Ran. Straight. At. Me. Over my foot (EEEEEK!) and into the house. It was like it was a pet, and he was grateful that I opened the door and let him in for the night. My husband came running in time to see me levitate, again, over to the couch. He loves to make fun of me for my spider fear. This time however, when he saw it, he uttered a list of expletives that I’m pretty sure consisted of new ones he’d made up. He killed it with a heavy book ~ SPLAT! *Phhhhooooobluuurgh*. There it lay, book with hairy brown legs sticking out from under it.

    I’m not going to be able to go to sleep tonight.

  40. kali on May 16th, 2006 7:02 pm

    oh. good. lord. i can’t stop shuddering.

  41. Stacy McCoy on January 14th, 2007 2:18 am

    Google is the best search engine

  42. Rebecca on July 20th, 2007 1:03 pm

    I too have encountered the Giant House Spider. It was when I was in high school and was going to bed one night. I walked in the door and turned on the light, and the first thing I saw was this *gigantic* spider walking up the wall beside my bed. It was bigger than my hand, and I am not exaggerating! Usually I freeze and whimper a bit when I see a particularly scary spider, but this time I did a full-out movie-style scream, which brought my mom running. She took one look at it, said “That IS a big one!” and killed it for me. Usually she would have teased me about being scared of it, but later she said it freaked her out a bit too.

    That encounter was on par with the first time I ever saw a house centipede. This was a few years later, when I was living on my own and in graduate school. Around 2 in the morning, the cat, who had been lying next to me, started meowing in a rather strange way. I woke up and turned on the light, and saw that she was looking up at the corner of the wall over my bed. There was a massive centipede there, which really freaked me out because I had never seen such a thing before, and it MADE NOISES at me! Aiee! I yelped a little, then grabbed my slipper and smashed it into oblivion, but not before I had chased it around the wall a bit. Those things are very fast, let me tell you.

    I am very happy to be with my boyfriend, who will catch and take outside any such critters with only the slightest level of complaints.

  43. aarwenn on July 22nd, 2007 11:53 pm

    I grew up in Seattle–Tacoma, actually–and my parents’ three story house was built into a hillside. (Common in mountain country.) All those ground-level entrances that giant house spiders like? We had three different ground levels = three times the giant house spiders. I agree with everyone that they are absolutely gigantic. Every time I saw one out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a rat until I looked closer. UGH.

    Then I got a German Shepherd. We had a deal: I knocked the spider off the wall with a broom, Titan pounced on and ate the spider. Helped me out a number of times, in addition to helping out occasional houseguests who would waylay me as I was getting in late at night, as I was the black sheep and stayed out late–my lucky parents only heard these stories in the morning. The best was a pair of Japanese exchange students who heard the front door open one early morning and rushed downstairs at me, phrasebook in hand. Their English was excellent and they certainly knew the word spider–I think they were so freaked out that they wanted to make SURE I knew what they had seen, and they brought out the phrasebook. “SPIDER,” they said, eyes like saucers. “BEEEG spider.” Titan and I went up to have a look. It was a GHS, but it was bright neon green and therefore I thought maybe it could be poisonous. I killed it, not wanting Titan to eat it if it was poisonous, and threw it out a window. I swear I heard the thunk when its body hit the ground.

  44. aarwenn on July 23rd, 2007 12:04 am

    –And yet, in spite of that, I moved back here after college and now build planes for a very large company, you may have heard of us, we’re making this new plane out of carbon fiber? Hello from one Seattlelite to another! I found your blog from Not Martha and have added you to my feeds–love the blog so far.

  45. Amy Lu on July 25th, 2007 4:10 am

    I am never ever moving to the Pacific Northwest. Never. No thank you. I like Wisconsin, with it’s extremely cold, very long, bug-killing winters.

    Oh, and I’ve heard about the BIRD CATCHING spiders of Australia. A friend encountered one in her shower while traveling there. I can’t handle the thought of a spider that could eat my hand for lunch.

    I’m so freaked out just thinking about it that I’ve become acutely aware that I’m barefoot. And I can’t see under the desk. I don’t know what’s down there… I feel the need to put on some shoes….

  46. Jody Davis on November 12th, 2008 4:16 pm


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