This was in my driveway recently. After I screamed and nearly wet myself, I took a picture. I dropped a nickel next to this creature to give you some perspective.
I know what you're thinking. OH. MY. GOD. And you are completely correct in trying to connect to a higher being at this moment...happens at times of great fear. This spider wasn't in a cage...it was just chillin' in my yard. It turns out that he was dying - thanks to some spraying from the day before. Yes, Oregon friends, I use pesticide now. Don't judge me...just take a look at that monster and tell me you wouldn't do the same.
Here's the kicker - he's the least of my worries, and not because he's dead. What happens to him next is horror movie fodder. And it justifies my new fondness for pesticide. What's worse than a fat hairy spider 12 inches from your sandal-wearing foot? I'll tell you - FIRE ANTS.
No, fire ants are not just creatures from Land of the Lost, and they don't live exclusively on far away continents. There are here in Texas. Don't believe me? Google it. Or check this out: http://www.natgeoeducationvideo.com/film/136/fire-ants-texas-border-massacre They are aggressive flesh-eating beasts for which we have to look constantly, as they'll come at you within seconds. No one told me about them prior to moving here. I was already scared of the snakes and scorpions - fire ants could have been a deal breaker.
I didn't take a picture of what was left, but within an hour of seeing that spider, his remains were pretty much gone as the fire ants sniffed him out and ate him up. It was then I discovered that the pesticide that killed that spider does nothing to fire ants - they require a separate poison all together.
I've been bit by them a couple of times...they can find their way into your shoes within a minute of you stopping and standing in the grass - and I'm not talking about being near their mound....they are everywhere. It hurts SO much, and they are tiny and fast and travel in packs, so there's never just one bit on your foot. The resulting welts itch, burn and hurt, and some children are dangerously allergic to the bites.
So while I was looking for snakes and scorpions, I ignored the ants to my peril. But let's get back to the snakes. I've been told that there are "only" four types of poisonous snakes in Texas - but there are several sub-species of those snakes (ten kinds of rattlesnakes and three kinds of coral snakes, to be exact.) There are certain times of the year where the snakes are molting, including their eyes, so for a few days they are blind. It's never good to come across a venomous snake, but even worse to come across a blind one. They strike out aggressively at any noise or movement. I was told by a veterinarian that they see a lot of dogs with snake bites during that time of year. Not good.
And if that isn't bad enough for you, then I'll tell you about the scorpions. (Not the 80's rock band.) They aren't deadly like snakes, but they are quick and their sting is painful and they can be anywhere. I've seen scorpions IN the light fixtures (like a dome light) on the ceiling - so they aren't limited to the ground. In fact, a friend was stung in her hand, in her room, and then later found the scorpion running down the wall to the floor below her room. They drop from trees and get you on the head and neck. Typing that just gave me goosebumps. Scorpions are always looking for water and shelter, so while you are obviously not safe from them outside, you aren't safe from them inside, either - which ruins my plan to hide indoors.
Texas is a dangerous place and I should be lauded for the bravery I display every day. I can see now why some people wear boots and carry guns. I'm considering doing both of those things myself...I'll be sure to post pictures.