Thursday, June 1, 2023

The difference between a scorpion and a spider

Or a worm and a snake. Okay, I know the obvious differences. And I read up here on the arachnids.

From the Univeristy of California website.

But why do spiders creep me out, but scorpions don't? I don't exactly cuddle with a scorpion if I see one, I do know that is not a good idea. While we are on the subject, tarantulas also do not creep me out. I will tell you that anything with more than four legs is gross, and I guess tarantulas and scorpions are a bit gross; just not in the same way spiders are. The only explanation I can come up with is that I didn't grow up with them, nor even with anyone who did. I grew up in Ireland and about the most dangerous insect we had was wasps, and even they were way smaller than what Texans call a wasp. And no, we didn't have snakes either. According to legend, St. Patrick chased them all out of Ireland.

My only exposure to any of these creatures was in the movies. Growing up my favorite movies were the Wild West. I devoured them. And given that I hated school and so never went. Oh I was enrolled, I just didn't go. I was delivered to the front door by my father, along with my two sisters. Went in the front door and immediately slipped out the back door and found a cinema to hide in. One that was showing a Western movie. There I saw my fill of snakes, tarantulas and most of all, scorpions. They were movie stars. And my heros were not afraid of them. I wanted to be a cowboy too and so I could not be afraid.

To be fair, I was never afraid of worms, but they are a bit gross and way too close to maggots which I think are possibly the grossest things on the planet. Of course, while scorpions and tarantulas are the same family as our average house spider, snakes are not the same family as worms. Just similar in appearance unless you look closely and find that face. And I know worms are also not related to maggots.

What started this train of thought? This morning I found a scorpion in my bathroom. This is the third scorpion I have discovered in the house, this year. The first one was in the waste basket in the bathroom. I found him when I was emptying it. He was in the bottom of a plastic bag with an assortment of kleenex, q-tips and an empty toothpaste tube. Too difficult to remove him so he went out with the garbage. The second I found on my shoulder. I was in the kitchen. My husband believed he came from the downstairs bathroom also and had hitched a ride on my shoulder, somewhat like a parrot? I flicked him off into the kitchen sink and managed to coax him into a plastic cup. He was released into the wild. This photo is the one that sat on my shoulder.

This third one, was the biggest, he was about two inches long, making his way along the baseboard between the vanity unit and the door to the toilet. I think we spotted each other at the same moment, because for a second neither of us moved. It was four thirty in the morning, that is the time I usually get up. I was about to head to the garage where my treadmill lives. The reason I use this particular bathroom is because of my crazy habit of getting up early and working out. I don't want to disturb my husband. Anyway, back to the moment we saw each other. 

My first thought was I have to take a photo of this guy. That thought was followed immediately by a swear word because my phone was still upstairs on charge. It sits overnight in a PhoneSoap that charges and cleans it (I have mentioned before that I am a germaphobe). So, my third thought was if I can scoop this creature into a cup or bag, I can do the photo shoot and then release him. I grabbed a sheet of paper and a plastic bag, but I had to move to do that and as soon as I moved he did a one-eighty and headed into the corner between the baseboard and the vanity kick board. I lay down on the floor to see if I could see him. Nope. Gone. There was the smallest crack between the wall, the baseboard and the kick board through which he disappeared. 

I had a flash of his point of view. He must have crawled up the waste pipe, hidden between the vanity unit shelving and the floor of the bathroom, behind the kickboard. Probably wandered around in the dark and dusty space. I wonder if there were small insects there to feed him? We have pest control come spray the house inside and out regularly, but their spray would not penetrate under the vanity. Then I arrived and turned on the light. He must have seen a ray of light come through the crack. Perhaps he thought he was heading towards heaven, or maybe he expected to arrive outside. Either way, his adventure was short lived.

Now we have to get our pest control company out to do another spray and then I plan to fill in that crack and hopefully that will eliminate scorpions from indoors permanently.

And what about snakes? Well, I haven't found any in the house, with the exception of the tiny little worm like snakes. They are the reason I compared snakes to worms. At first I thought I had found a worm on the floor, in the hall, but looking closer, it had a head and eyes. Not what worms have. So I googled it and discovered it really was a tiny snake. It was dead, probably came in on the sole of someone's shoe.

Like I said, I like snakes. I also have a healthy respect for them because I am aware that many can be deadly. Again, I don't know why I like them but it is probably also connected to my love of the Wild West lore and cowboys who constantly battled with rattle snakes. 

My therapist once asked me what was my favorite snake. I don't remember how the subject of snakes ever came up but that is therapy, anyway once it was mentioned he asked me and I said cobras. Then he asked me why. I had no answer but felt obliged to say something. So I told him it was because they warn before they strike. I have no idea where that came from, but my guess is it doesn't matter. That is how therapy works after all—right? you say the first thing that comes into your head and god alone knows what the therapist makes of it. That was a long time ago, but I still miss my therapist, Dick. I wrote about him here. He didn't tell me what he thought of my response but no doubt it would have been interesting. But it is true that they are my favorite snake. I actually have a tattoo of one on my back. 

Anyway, I decided to fill in the crack through which I assumed the scorpion had managed to squeeze himself. Pest control was scheduled for the following week and I didn't want to wait that long. When I lay flat on the bathroom floor again, I noticed it was more than a crack, the top corner of the kick board was cut away, a small square was missing. I know the scorpions didn't do that! At least I hope they don't have power tools under there. So with great difficulty I filled that gap and the crack between the baseboard and the vanity unit, with caulk. It wasn't easy because there is a slight overhang from the vanity unit and the caulking gun was too big to bend around it, but with the help of a flat paint brush I managed to fill the hole with the stuff. Next I researched and found a spray foam. It is an aerosol with a long straw like nozzle. The foam dries solid. That I am going to buy for any future holes and cracks I discover. After all, if a scorpion can crawl through into my bathroom, so could a spider! Thank God I haven't seen one of them for a long time, at least not in the house. We see them on the dock and on the boat, but that is their domain that we are invading. 

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