Monsters in the back yard…

I wandered outside to check on the hornet trap (1 occupant, I’ll get to that in a minute), and when I returned to the kitchen Patches was explaining that there were monsters outside.

I came in during the middle of the conversation at a point which he was explaining to Sandra “No, DADDY kill them with a sword.” Well, good. It’s nice that my kids have such faith in me. Like any good monster-slaying hero (or at least any hero with an eye towards longevity), I asked him for some details. Apparently these beasts make a fearsome noise (GRRKKKKH!) and hide in trees with flashlights. Hmmm…

I was ready to dismiss this as a flight of fancy that just happened to feature me as the hero, until Sandra realized what Patches was talking about. “It’s not flashlights. It’s LIGHTNING. He’s talking about thunder and lightning.”

Oh-HO! I’ve got news for you, kid. Your daddy, brave though you may think him to be, just found that a spider had moved into the hornet trap and laid an egg sac, and that tiny little beast gave him a case of the willies that will likely render him unable to APPROACH the trap, much less open and clean it. Don’t think for a minute that I’m going to head out into the next thunderstorm and wave a four-foot length of high-tempered carbon steel around under the trees. Sure, I’ve got a sword. I’ve got three or four that would make very servicable weapons. But these thunder and lightning monsters, like the spiders I’m mortally afraid of, don’t fight fair. If I succeed in engaging one with my blade, that won’t be the “thrill of victory” coursing through my veins.

The next time these monsters make themselves heard, son, your lily-livered Dad will sit quietly with you in the family room and hope they go away. Maybe if we get lucky lightning will strike the hornet trap.


21 thoughts on “Monsters in the back yard…”

  1. When dealing with such beasties, I find that acetone is a chemical engineer’s best friend. Put in a poly spray bottle, and life is GOOD. (as an added bonus, it makes quite the fwoom! if you use a match, too)

    1. The spider is protected by the same multi-layered system that keeps hornets from escaping. I’d have to melt the trap to kill it with an acetone anti-insect torch.

      I actually think that my best bet is to move the trap from the shade of the tree into direct sunlight, and roast the eight-legged freak.


      1. You don’t have to. Acetone melts their carapace. It’ll even suffocate them, given sufficient time and concentration.

        It’s the perfect way to collect insect specimens for insect collections, for that reason: coat a cotton ball with the stuff, stick in a Mason jar, and throw in your insect. No hammers needed.

    2. My favorite way to deal with hornet nests was a can of WD-40 and a match. If you do it right, you incinterate the little bastard’s wings as they launch out to attack you, and you don’t set anything on fire, either.

  2. At least your spiders are in hornets’ nests, where you’re not likely to run into them. Imagine taking a fan down from the attic, putting it on, and a few days later finding out that a spider or three had laid eggs in them — because, waking up, you find that you’re utterly covered in baby spiderlings and their silk, blown there after hatching in the fan.

  3. Spiders freak me out. I totally sympathize. Try just flushing the trap out with a high-power jet of water from the garden hose. Then you won’t have to touch it.

    All God’s creatures are wonderful, but I don’t want them all touching me. This morning I got into my car and found, because I’d left the window open a tiny bit, a tiny spider had made a large nearly invisible web across my front seat. Fortunately I noticed the shimmer of the web before I got caught in it, and was able to usher the wee beastie out onto the grass with reasonable dignity, rather than freaking out in the parking lot. I shudder to think, if it had gotten in my hair! eeee

    Patches is so very cute! He will always think you’re a hero. (Until he’s sixteen, of course, then you’ll become totally lame.)

  4. I am the resident spider-slayer in our house. And yes, Howard asked me to move the hornet trap for him. Sometime tomorrow I’ll clean it and removed the hideous beasty which has Howard freaked.

    Patches terror of thunder isn’t so easy to manage. It originated from a specific thunder crack where Patches was out back by himself. I heard the crack and then the sound of Patches screaming dopplering closer to me as he ran to the house as fast as his legs would go. Now we just hug him until the “monster” goes away.

    1. Waspcicles and Spider Pops!

      Pop the trap in the freezer for an hour before opening it. When you clean it out, there will be nothing but dead bugs in there. For “catch and release”, freeze for 10 minutes: it makes them go dormant but they don’t die.

      Shove the bottom of the trap into a baggie first if you’re worried about bits falling out into the frozen veggies. 🙂

  5. Reminds me, for some reason, of a time when I was speaking to you on the phone, and I casually opened up the grease trap over the stove and a dead roach fell out. (Yes, the Sarasota house.) I screamed, and you asked what happened, and I explained that the grease trap had a label which read “clean frequently” (or something to that effect) and you yelled “Don’t!”

    Spiders I can handle. Well, not put in my hands, per se. But ROACHES. Man, I’m glad we don’t believe in a literal hell, or I know what mine would be crawling with.

  6. That is a cute story.

    My policy on spiders is that they can live as long as they don’t invade with my personal and living space. I’ll even let them live on the outside of the house or a vaulted ceiling. Any closer than that and I tend to get very uneasy.

    I don’t like killing big spiders because it’s so messy. Weird, I know, but it’s true. One really big one used to spin a web every night between my can and the pine tree I had to park near. I got into the habit of entering on the passenger side, so I wouldn’t walk into the web. I knew the web would be ruined when I pulled out of the driveway, but I figured sooner or later the spider would realize it was a bad place to make a web.

    After about a month, there was no longer webs being made between the car and the pine. I don’t know if it’s because I guessed its intelligence level correctly, or if the last time he ended up on the car instead of the tree and I lost him on the highway on my way to work.

  7. Ha! This entry was almost Dave Barry-esque

    Funnily enough.. your wasp trap is really a spider smorgasboard. Spiders love feasting on wasps and vice versa.

    One fun way to get rid of wasps was y-shaped large stick (2″ diamater) roll of toliet paper resting at the Y-section, a liberal amount of lighter fluid.. and Voila… toasted Wasps as they rain from the sky. The heat from the torch just snuffed them out of the air as they boiled from the nest.

    Don’t forget a bucket of water though to douse the roll of tp in..

  8. Chuckle

    This post reminds me of the movie, “The Keeper of Time”.

    If you’re the type of nut that likes terrible acting, with an aweful script, and cheesy special effects, I highly recommend it. Anyway… there’s once scene in particular that exemplifies this post.


    1. Re: Chuckle

      It reminded me of Dirk Gently’s refridgerator in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Not opening the refridgerator became more important than the reason for having one.

      Of course the refridgerator eventually became a new and fearful god, so maybe you should just bite the bullet and clean out the trap.

      1. Re: Chuckle

        Perhaps I should explain…

        In the film, The Keeper of Time, one of the main characters battles a lightning storm with a “four-foot length of high-tempered carbon steel” and wins!

        I still chuckle every time I think about it.


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