• Carmen Marie Fabio

Don't bug me

It's that time of year again that, for reasons I still don't fully understand, all you hot-weather people seem so eager to embrace, welcoming back the summer season replete with humidity, sunburn, heat-stroke and... bugs. Yes, I know there are some benefits like the lack of snow but for cold-weather-loving people like me, bugs are the insult to the injury that heat wields for at least three months of the Canadian year.

I have no problem with the beneficial arachnids and aphid-munching ladybugs that sit sentry on the various leaves in my garden. Rather, it's the myriad crop of mosquitoes (from the big stupid ones to the lightning fast small ones) to the first arrogant carpenter ant that awkwardly marched across my living room floor this spring groggily looking for a food source.

I have an agreement with the spiders in my house – stay out of my way and I won't kill you. For the most part they comply and when the last fool dropped onto my head after I stepped out of the shower, he was quickly and efficiently eliminated.

Living with boys means an endless supply of six and eight-legged creatures makes its way into the house and, with a little jerry-rigging, an old aquarium quickly became a makeshift residence for an endless supply of critters. And while Slimy the Snail and Priscilla the Praying Mantis graced us with their presence for a few weeks (honestly, we actually bought crickets for Priscilla to snack on) it was an unnamed spider who stayed with us for almost eight months that really captivated our attention.

Found in the wood pile by my husband, my then 10-year-old came in asking for a container in which to put another foundling. Being used to this request, I didn't bat an eye until he came back with the latest addition to our menagerie – the biggest spider I had ever laid eyes on in the Northern Hemisphere. As a former colleague succinctly yelled, “The thing's got fur!”

She quickly consumed every other living thing in the aquarium and, in the middle of the night, could almost be heard straining against the screened lid and pounding on the glass demanding more food. While her first pregnancy came as a bit of a surprise, her subsequent second and third pregnancies, while she was alone in her aquarium, left us scratching our heads. Not to mention the fact that all of her offspring disappeared. Knowing that I would have noticed hundreds of spiders suddenly appearing in my home and knowing that the aquarium lid had not been removed, I'm forced to draw the conclusion that she just ate her brood. Pragmatic, executive decision.

The boys are a little older now but the allure of the insect world has not lost its appeal and as the creeping upward-thermometer reveals the life forms that have laid dormant for the past few months, I've no doubt the aquarium will soon be dusted off and its role of insect keeper and seasonal entertainment centre duly reinstated.