I was bitten by a spider years ago. As my wife and I were almost asleep, I felt what I could only describe as a bee sting on my back. As I rolled away from whatever it was, my wife suddenly jumped up, started slapping at her nightgown and said: "Something's crawling on me."
I finally found the light switch and we surveyed the damage. There wasn't much left. All the legs were gone and the body was terribly deformed. Still, I placed it on the counter in the bathroom, returned to the bedroom and asked my wife to look at my back.
"Oh my God" were the first words she spoke. "Feel your back", so I did.
There was a knot the size of a half walnut shell. My wife went to work with her nails and started squeezing the poison from the knot. After a few minutes of this, I went to the bathroom, fetched the Icthammol ointment and a large bandage. She placed a healthy dob of the ointment and the bandage. We decided if it wasn't better by morning, I would go to a doctor.
When we looked at the bite the next morning, there was nothing left but a small red spot. The swelling was gone and there was no pain. I chalked it up to experience and mostly forgot about it.
About two years ago, I was bit again. This time was different.
I was walking through my yard late one evening, right before dark. There were plenty of mosquitos, so there were plenty of bites; mostly on my back. As I walked, I walked through the large, tough web of an Orb spider. I slapped away the web and, hopefully, the spider. They can get to 4 inches from tip of leg to tip of leg. Otherwise, they're large spiders, with large chelicerae (fangs). I thought I had escaped without injury, until about two days later.
A large red area appeared on my back. Over the next few days, it became larger and tender to the touch. I suspected a spider bite, but had to think of how I had been bitten. I knew I had walked through a web, but didn't feel the sharp sting like before. I looked up spider bites and found photos that looked like my back.
After I did a little research, I discovered that a spider may not inject venom, but will still warn you with a stab of their fangs. While this may seem to be harmless, the fangs are coated with all of the rotten juices that accumulate from their victims. The result of their warning can be a staph infection, which is what I was dealing with.
I kept the bite area covered, placed plenty of ointment and it started draining. It drained for days and eventually healed. This leads us to the title of my post.
There are always Orb spiders in my yard. They appear early every summer and start homesteading the spots where I walk. Since my bite, I'm obsessive with a pump-up sprayer and insecticide. I eradicate all I can reach. After the few weeks of summer, the first skirmish is over. If I can't reach them with the spray, they can build all the webs they want.
We have an uneasy truce, but I'm vigilant for their forays into my territory. If I miss them with the insecticide, the weed whacker does quite well. I've even caught one when the handy spray was safety orange paint. The paint served a dual purpose. Not only did it get rid of the spider, it left a brilliant warning to all of his comrades.
Usually, everything ends during the last days of summer, when the bats, and martins, find the webs. The webs will remain, but the large hole in the middle shows something had a good meal. The battle is over, but the war continues. I have a feeling it will go on for a long, long time.