Shelob’s Lair

When EJ got home from work yesterday, he opened our bedroom window. As soon as I saw that it was opened, I closed it again. Sometimes he grumbles a bit that I shut the windows at night. He would at least like to keep our bedroom window open. Last year we replaced three of our windows, but our bedroom has one of the two windows that need still replacing. The screens don’t fit tightly and there’s a small gap at the bottom. I close it because I don’t want insects crawling in at night. After reading that Wolf Spiders are active at night, and with a giant Wolf Spider’s lair just a few feet from our bedroom window, I feel completely justified in closing the window at night.

I have been suffering from residual fear since my encounter with the scary spider yesterday. Terror has coiled in my stomach and tensed all my muscles. If I see, hear, or feel anything unexpected–a clump of dirt, a wisp of pet hair drifting across the floor–I jump like a scared cat. Occasionally–like yesterday evening–I go through the house spraying spider spray anywhere I think might hide spiders.

I think spiders stir up deep fears, which may be why so many horror stories and fairy tales feature spiders. I remember the Saturday afternoon horror movies of my childhood in which a giant spider would terrorize a community. I never liked horror/monster movies and avoided them if I could, but I had older siblings who watched them. Enchanted Forests always have big scary spiders–like the spiders Bilbo and the dwarves became entangled with in The Hobbit. And there’s Shelob, the huge spider that almost killed Frodo in The Lord of the Rings:

But still, she [Shelob] was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness.“—The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings

This morning when I walked out to the coop to release the ducks and chickens, I took a flashlight with me even though it was light enough not to need one. I swept its light back and forth in front of me, hoping to see and avoid the spider if she was out there. She was large enough for a person to trip over. She was large enough that a person could put a leash on her and take her for a walk if they wanted to, although I think only evil villains would want to. I shared her photo in the bug identification group at Facebook and a few people said she was beautiful. I think that only people who have gone over to the Dark Side would find such a monster beautiful. Their secret “real” names are probably something like “Maleficient,” “Cruella,” “Sauron,” or “The Wicked Witch of the West.”

Who knows what evil lurks in this hole?

I decided to call the spider Shelob. I didn’t see any movement in the grass this morning. After I let the ducks and chickens out of the coop, I went over to look at the hole of Shelob’s lair. I seem to have developed some sort of a horrified attraction to it. In fact, I am now watching apprehensively for holes–any and all holes–on our property. There is a fist-sized hole at the base of one of the rock dams I built along the driveway. I’m staying well away from it. If a little finger-sized hole can contain a spider as large as Shelob, can you imagine what could lurk in a fist-sized hole?

I have gone out to look at the hole to Shelob’s lair several times throughout the day. I can see the indentation where the hole had flooded and caved in, but it’s filling in, and the hole itself is growing smaller and smaller, back to what it was before I flooded it yesterday. I’m sure that Shelob has returned home and is repairing her lair.




This presents me with a moral dilemma: Do I kill Shelob or let her live?

JJ’s handheld bug zappers

I have no reluctance about killing spiders. In fact, yesterday I moved the bird bath from near the big rocks over to the flower garden near the house. After I moved it, I found a tiny Black Widow spider on it. I went right into the house, grabbed JJ’s handheld bug zapper racket, and killed it without any hesitation.  I had always read that Michigan had Black Widows, but I never saw one until we moved north. I never suspected Michigan had tarantula-sized spiders either until we moved north. I would think we’d have fewer scary insects in the colder north, not more.

I don’t why I feel hesitant about killing Shelob. I can’t believe I’m not going right out there and immediately spraying her lair with my death spray. She is huge, ugly, and scary like a tarantula. Knowing she exists is terrifying. Spiders have millions of babies. Knowing she will reproduce others of her kind is absolutely horrifying.

But it’s always been my policy, that if a spider (or other creepy crawly) is in my territory–which includes my body, personal space, and house–then it will die. I’ve always left them alone if they were in their own territory, which is outside and not on or near me, and if they are not a poisonous, venomous threat. In the three summers that we’ve lived in Northern Michigan, I’ve never seen any sign of a spider that size, including after I noticed the hole. So maybe I shouldn’t kill her. I probably shouldn’t have given the spider a name because it makes her seem more personable so it feels as if I would be murdering E.T. or something. Or maybe every hero needs an arch-enemy.

What do you think? Feel free to share your reasons for your decision as well.


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