High gardening season in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina is now concluding. The sultry summer of humidity and high temperatures, violent summer thunderstorms, tornadic activity, mosquitoes and better things to do indoors all make the late May days here wrap-up time in the garden and yard. Caring for an acre of this green Earth here is a lot of work for DINKs without a gardener (as if), so we start early — February if possible — on the garden cleanup, big rock-moving, mulch-laying, flower bed building projects. It all has to get done, so we get in, get done, and try to just maintain over the hot summer and hopefully enjoy the fruits of all the hard labor. Sometimes, most times over the past three years in fact, with no love for the labor.
After observing, as a gardener and owner, numerous black widow spiders (Latrodectus mactans – the southern (American) Black Widow here) in and around the property, I formed the habit (generally) of checking my boots for spiders before I put them on. I usually leave a pair or two of “work shoes”, often just old running shoes or boots, down in the garage downstairs where we keep the lawn equipment. There is some access for insects and spiders, so I usually use caution. My typical wariness escaped me Sunday morning, when I retrieved my work gloves from the back stoop where I left them the previous evening in favor of an ice cold beer after finishing up a long day of yard work with SO supervising. I awoke Sunday to a relatively cool morning, which promised temps later in the 90s. After a quick breakfast I walked outside, grabbed my gloves, and went back in for a cup of coffee to take with me to work. I slipped the left one on in the kitchen, and then started to put on the right glove when my pinky encountered some resistance as I tried to slide my hand in. I almost immediately realized there was something in there, and started to withdraw my hand, I looked down at my hand, and it was suddenly awash in two- or three-hundred baby spiders. They were falling on the floor, crawling up my arm, and then the mother spider popped out of my worn deerhide glove onto the floor. She was about 2 inches across, not a Black Widow, but a stunned Wolf Spider, that probably looked a lot like this before I so disturbed her.
So now the gloves will hang from a hook, the shoes will also be hung up off the floor. I was surprisingly calm, I did not get bitten, and I’m very glad it was not Latrodectus mactans in the pinky finger of my trusty glove, with which I dug many a hole in the gritty red clay of Davidson County.