This is just one of several black widows to take the front door hostage at editor Monique Tamminga's house. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

Opinion: Black widows have taken my front door hostage

The name black widow comes from the female’s habit of eating the male after mating

This column isn’t going to be about vaccine passports or the Delta variant. And it definitely won’t be about the snap election results.

This is a column about our not so friendly neighbourhood spider – the black widow.

I recently discovered I have arachnophobia. A new affliction brought on by the black widow infestation at my front door. I’ve never had to deal with these venomous creatures with their shiny black bodies and scarlet red markings.

My first reaction was to either burn the house down or move. I don’t do spiders. Especially not shiny black, venom spiders that can haunt your dreams.

This isn’t going to be one of those live and let live agreements I had with the deer who ate all my plants. (As I write this I’m staring at the deer feasting in the orchard across the street!)

The first black widow caught me off guard as it crawled closer to my front door. It was bigger than a loonie. I understand now that the females are larger than the males. In my research, I have learned the name black widow comes from the female’s habit of eating the male after mating.

That female widow held my entrance hostage for 20 minutes before I gathered the courage to walk past her. A female’s bite is worse to humans than a rattlesnake’s venom, according to my Google search.

Since my first encounter a week ago, there have been several more widows and several more panicked moments.

Moving seems like the only logical answer.

I’m from the West Coast where the only dangerous encounters we have are of the furry four-legged wild animal variety. Bears were on the regular at my driveway and in my neighbourhood as were coyotes and raccoons.

But they aren’t creepy and crawly.

Okanagan is home to a whole host of creepy, crawly, slithery things that I’m not sure I signed up for when moving to this desert slice of paradise.

We have scorpions, rattlesnakes and gopher snakes posing at rattlers.

I wrote the story about the baby rattler curled up beside the outhouse toilet at Skaha Bluffs. That scenario is what nightmares are made of.

Black widows make for good nightmares too and now we just killed one in the office. I’m thinking of hiring a spider guy. If I find a murder hornet, I’m definitely moving.

That will be the final straw.

— Monique Tamminga is the editor of the Penticton Western News