Houseguests, or Why I wish I had a macro lens.
Warning: The graphic images in this blog post may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
In Homer‘s Odyssey, Penélopê (Πηνελόπη) is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and so is eventually rejoined with him. Her name (which happens to be close to the Greek word for “duck”) is usually understood to combine the Greek word for “web” or “woof” (πηνη / pene), and the word for “eye” or “face” (ωψ / ōps), which is most appropriate for a weaver of cunning whose motivation is hard to decipher.
Earlier this week, I noticed we had an unwanted house guest.
wifey: Could you do something about the huge spider making its home in the kitchen window?
It did kill a big bug yesterday. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice.
I’ll relocate her.
wifey: …you wanted her to *stay* there?
Alright, so, I admit it didn’t take very long for the spider to become a pet rather than a pest. I’d mark the time right at that first “her”. I had a bit of a scare when I was looking up spiders by their markings and my google search brought up only articles on black widows, but I quickly realized her markings were not red, nor is she that big. Her fate was sealed when I read the following:
The common house spider is not aggressive. They are not known to bite people frequently, nor is their venom known to be dangerous to human beings. When removed from their webs their poor vision renders them helpless. Their only concern seems to be to find and return to their own web or build another one. They do not wander around inside houses except to find a secure place to build a web. Since these spiders are harmless and their diet consists of pests such as flies and mosquito, tolerating their presence in human homes is beneficial.
In retrospect, I see that I may have been duped. I don’t know who Ryan Fiedler is (the source for this wikipedia article), but I see now that he’s probably a spider. He and his little buddies were probably all cheering each other on as they typed this one out. No, no, no! Write helpless. That’s sure to get them tearing up! “Their only concern seems to be to find and return to their own web”? Yeah, good one! Very Oliver Twist! Oh, write “not known to bite frequently“, that way we cover our asses when we bite the crap out of them one night as they sleep. “Tolerating their presence in human homes is beneficial.” I’m sorry, did that article just tell me what to do?!
Admittedly, I am now quite fascinated by her. I check up on her every morning, making sure she has some food in her web. We had a little bit of a fight earlier this week when I cut her web down a bit and sucked up her old scraps with the vacuum. She hid for most of the day behind the blinds, but by the evening she was out in the open fixing up her web.
I’ve laid down the law, though, and said she can only stay until I see an egg sac.
Penelope’s home, in the top left corner of our kitchen window.
The good work Penelope’s been doing.
Penelope fixing her web after I broke part of it.
Uh, yes. I photograph my spider using a $65 piece of plastic.
Penelope and moth.