Since Halloween is just a few angsty twists and blind turns away … want to see something really scary?
I’ll give you a moment to study the image that accompanies this story. Note the size of the screw head by the creature’s leg. Do the visual math. Now scream.
Nothing gets the ichor flowing quite like an enormous spider all up in your grill, even if it’s on a screen.
But maybe you’re not as terror-/tantalized by spiders as I am. Maybe you don’t keep pictures of the biggest ones you’ve ever seen on your phone. In a special album. Called “Spider Porn.”
Whatever your spidey stance, the newest entry in my arachna-folio is a local whopper that deserves your attention, if not its own zip code, far far away from me.
This Spider of Unusual Size — which, despite its enormity, is not a tarantula but a wolf spider — wandered into the living room of a nearish neighbor’s house a month or so back. Sharon Hornschuch posted the photo of the leggy interloper on Next Door, instantly eight-upping the creepy crawly-ness of a discussion about “camel” spider sightings on Colorado Springs’ west side.
That was Aug. 31, the day after my last good night’s sleep. I now fear every toss or turn will send a wisp of sheet or blanket onto the floor, thereby creating a giant wolf spider runway straight to my face.
Rules No. 1-3 of Stephanie’s Spider Truth/Truce:
SCALING BEDCLOTHES IS THE ONLY WAY SPIDERS CAN GET ONTO SLEEPING FACES.
Also, spiders can’t climb stairs unless they’re carpeted, and they don’t like the color blue. These are pillars of the doctrine, so just shut up.
Hornschuch said she was opening the drapes by the sliding glass doors at her home off 19th St. when she saw the creature huddled, like a howitzer, at the corner of the door frame.
“I just was in shock at first. I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing,” said Sharon, who estimated the spider, legs-splayed, was about the size of her hand.
She regained her senses and rushed out to catch her husband, Michael, who was about to head off to work with a colleague. Michael rolled his eyes, but headed back inside to deal with his wife’s little spider problem.
When he saw what he’d signed on for, the mockery stopped.
Because being a giant wolf spider means never having to say “Boo!”
Rules 4 and 5 of SST/T:
SPIDERS CAN READ YOUR MIND, so always be thinking nice things about spiders.
Also, spiders are agents of karma. Save a spider, save the world!
In West Virginia, where I grew up, I once met a wolf spider so big it had an intact dogwood leaf stuck to its foot. In 1993, while I was taking out the trash, the bag broke and an empty dog food can rolled across my path. I thought the thing that tumbled out of it was a Halloween decoration. Until it moved.
I know Colorado has tarantulas, but I thought I’d left monster wolf spiders behind when I headed west.
Tarantulas are massive spiders, for sure, but they’re also fuzzy. Fuzziness, even when weaponized, is friendlier than an exoskeleton of demon armor. Like being able to call yourself a wolf spider isn’t badass enough.
The (probable) female variety that scuttled into the Hornschuch home was not the biggest Michael had ever seen. He’s a life-long professional painter and renovator who worked in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, where he routinely met wolf spiders of Hollywood prop shop proportions.
It was, however, the second largest wolfie he’d seen in Colorado and the biggest he’d ever encountered in his home.
Like me, Michael suffers from spider fear/fascination complicated by science and empathy. Unlike me, when he was in his 20s he tried and failed to cure his “arachnophobia-like-you-wouldn’t-believe” by adopting a menagerie of tarantulas.
“Spiders are cool, so long as they’re outside. Once you cross the threshold, all bets are off. You’ve got to go,” said Michael, who owns Rekindled Spirits Restoration. “If you don’t go nicely, you might have to go on the bottom of my shoe.”
In his living room, on that late August morning, he hoped it wouldn’t come to such mortal ends. When his coworker offered to dispatch the unwelcome guest, squish-style, Michael stayed his foot.
“It’s an actual Asian mythology or spiritual thing, that if you let a female spider go, it brings prosperity to the home,” he said.
But good spider mojo comes with a price.
Rule No. THE MOST IMPORTANT:
Know thy enemy. Especially, where thy enemy is RIGHT NOW.
Colorado tarantulas get all the props for their size, but Colorado wolf spiders can be bigger. Wolf spiders don’t spin webs, are generally shy and passive unless cornered, and excellent at dispatching (other) domestic-adjacent pests, including small mammals. Females are larger than males, with mamas carrying their hatchlings on their backs for their first few weeks of life, providing both transportation and sometimes nourishment, in a way not addressed in "Charlotte’s Web."
When wolf spiders end up inside homes, which can happen in late summer and fall, they’re probably more freaked out about the situation than than you are.
Like tarantulas, their venom is considered harmless to humans who aren’t allergic. That doesn’t mean a bite, or the close encounter that led to it, won’t cause distress.
On that note, do not ever ever Google “Wolf spider eating baby mouse.” You have been warned.
Michael managed to trap his and Sharon’s giant wolf spider in a Tupperware container, and he released it in a hedgerow of arborvitae across the street. There, in accordance with Rule #4, he predicts it will live out a long and fulfilling life.
“She jumped right in, turned around, flipped me off and said, ‘Next time we meet, son….’ I know that’s what she said, I could see it in her eyes,” he said.
He hasn’t seen a spider of such proportions since, but now that he knows they’re there...well, he knows they’re there.
And we do too. Yay.
I am so painting my house blue.