I was on the phone the other day, and as is my wont, I was talking and stalking around my studio. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an irregular dark shape, underneath an electrical conduit. I took a closer look, and saw the tell-tale red hourglass marking on the back of a large black spider.
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by my reaction. I wanted this spider out of my studio. But I also was thrilled at the chance to see this animal. And I was desperate to get a photograph of the black widow. I realized that my macro lens was at home, so I left the spider alone for a day. Considering the pile of dead flies under her web, I figured, she wasn't going anywhere.
Today, Sheri and I teamed up to re-locate the black widow. My job was to don the gardening gloves, and transfer the spider into a container. Sheri would take charge of standing over my shoulder, jumping up and down, and flapping her hands at the wrists and going "oh! oh! oh!" Since I couldn't do both of these things at once, I delegated my non-spider-moving duties to Sheri.
Black widow spiders have loosely structured, three dimensional webs and I figured that I would use a feather duster to shift the spider into a container. But as we learned, things are never as simple as one might hope. Behind the airy web was a funnel shaped section of web that Sheri and I named the Spider's Bedroom. Missus Spider immediately retreated into her lair, which resisted my efforts to dis-assemble it. This section of web was very solid, about as strong as paper towel. The feather duster failed, the artist's paint brush (with the nice long handle) failed. What finally worked was a strange scenic art tool, made of a large safety pin mounted on the end of a piece of bamboo.
I carefully dis-assembled her web, and then gently knocked her into a plastic paint container. And then the photo-shoot began.
The spider's markings are on the underside of her abdomen, so I had to try to get her into position, and get the camera to focus through the tub's dirty plastic walls. Sheri was so amused, that she shot a photograph of me, photographing the spider. As you can see, I'm taking no chances.
I'm such a tender hearted creature that I'm incapable of killing even a black widow spider. Instead, we took her across the street, and released her onto the scrubby waste land owned by the railroad.
Good bye, Missus Spider! Please don't come back to visit us anytime soon.