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Piece of Mind: Loving and hating those tangled webs

A huge housefly flew into the room and started buzzing around our heads in the den on Saturday afternoon, a day so hot outside that we had no choice but to while away our time indoors, hovering near the air-conditioning vents.

Gil and I looked at each other and simultaneously wondered aloud if that room’s resident spider, the one who is fond of creating fantastic webs on the wide windowsill, would take care of the fly so we wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of swatting it ourselves.

Yes, it has come to that. In our first years of marriage, we were more meticulous about cleaning out webs. Not so much anymore. Just as we became used to each other’s less-than-perfect habits, we eventually relaxed our stance about spider-type activities inside the house.

We were especially grateful to our eight-legged housemates late one night about a year ago when, over a period of roughly 15 minutes, more than a dozen black flies — huge, disgusting things — showed up in the den when we were watching TV. How this fly convention in Cormaci Hall was organized was a mystery to us, as there were no exterior doors hanging open and all the windows were shut. Maybe they crawled from the attic through a ceiling light fixture and then onto our walls. Or, perhaps they flew down the living room chimney and made a fly-line to the den. We never figured it out.


Outnumbered, we took the only appropriate action: We exited the den, closing its door behind us, and retreated to the bedroom. We’d deal with it during daylight hours.

The next day we awoke to find a bunch of fly carcasses wrapped up neatly in an enormous web that had appeared overnight on the den windowsill. The gavel had come down on that convention, and we were glad we didn’t have to use our morning paper to dispatch the visitors ourselves. A quick vacuuming job restored order.

We were very happy for the assistance and had a new appreciation for indoor webs. It’s also worth noting we haven’t had the same kind of fly invasion since last summer and have chalked it up to coexisting nicely with our spiders.

One of us, however, has issues with their outdoor cousins. On most mornings Gil takes a solo walk around town. These walks do him good, but there is one thing this summer that is particularly disturbing him: the ridiculous number of spider webs he gets caught up in during these outings. You should see the faces he makes when describing the disgust he’s feeling with those spiders that spin yards full of the stuff to catch some juicy La Cañada prey.


“What is wrong with them?” he demands to know, as though I have an answer. “I am so careful to walk far away from posts, or trees, or fences, and I still walk into webs everywhere. I hate that!”

I thought little of Gil’s daily protestations until I had telephone message at my office the other day from one of our favorite longtime readers. He exhorted us to look into the extreme number of spiders he’s been seeing this summer. He doesn’t know what variety they are, he said, or if they pose any danger to the community, but he’s seeing a whole lot of them and thinks we should report on it.

Between Gil and my caller, that’s two people who think spiders have been all too present here over the past few months. Before I send a reporter out to do some deep investigative work, are there any more of you who are concerned about the creatures? Or can we all just get along?

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the La Cañada Valley Sun. She can be reached at or