Every place in which Hubby and I have lived – and we have lived in MANY* – with the exception of two, has had an infestation of something.

Our first apartment was crawling with Brown Recluse spiders – literally.

And, our next was crawling with German Cockroaches.

Fast forward a few years and we are in Georgia, in a house – with two small children. And, the house is infested with Brown Recluse spiders, again, along with Crevice Spiders, jumping spiders, black widows, brown widows, and flying 2 inch long cockroaches locally known as “Palmetto bugs.”  For the first time since my teen years, I was bitten by a spider.  (25  years later I still have a knot on my arm where I was bitten.) Oh, and Fire Ants…the yard (and from my experience, the entire state of Georgia) was infested with Fire Ants.

Son was about 9 and Daughter 7 when we moved to a new house, down a dirt road…way out in the country (nearest Walmart was a 45 minute drive at the time). New house = no infestation, right?  Wrong.  The infestation was under the house…under the ground. Fire Ants! Several times they invaded Daughter’s bed while she slept, and our closet – where they settled into our clean, hanging clothes. They managed to get into a tightly sealed jar of peanut butter in my kitchen cabinet! Fire Ants are evil.

A few more years found us living in Florida.  Spiders there are big and hairy…and scary.  At least the one that surprised me in the washroom was.  Its 4 1/2 inch long leg span and huge body was enough to send me screaming for Hubby.  Of course, by the time we returned it was gone.  Inside the house, even though the “bug man” sprayed bug killer every month we continued to see black jumping spiders – funny things that moved erratically with big shiny eyes and white spots on their backs.

Flash forward to 2006 – we returned to Georgia and moved into a century old house – notice I said “old.” The ceilings were 12 ft high and consisted of small boards and cracks between them.  In the winter, the boards would shrink and we could see more attic than we cared to.  And, in the spring, baby spiders would slip through the cracks and greet us face to face as they hung on their little silken threads.  We loved the old house but we didn’t love the infestations. Palmetto bugs, American Cockroaches (never saw any smaller than 1.5 inches), Oriental Cockroaches, Brown Recluse, Cellar Spiders, Black Widow, Brown Widow, Yellow Sac Spider….

Late last year Hubby, Daughter and I moved to our present location, 400 miles north of the old house.  We took great pains to leave creatures behind that did not belong to us. And, felt confident that the cold winter would kill off any Southern critters that tagged along on, or in, the boxes stored in the garage.  The garage had been heavily treated with chemicals before we moved in.

It appears the previous renters had dogs and the dogs had fleas. And, as fleas are known to do, they infested – the house and mainly the garage.  The majority of our “stuff” went into the garage and within only a few days I noticed several Palmetto Bugs and a couple of 1.5 inch long American Cockroaches upside down with their legs in the air.  Dead – not even a twitch was noticed.  I also saw many black crickets, also upside down

No, we didn’t bring black crickets with us.  Apparently they were already here.

Within the house we noted only one spider – a friendly sort who seemed content to observe us from the ceiling, or wall, and eventually became brave enough to assist Hubby on his laptop.

Content and confident that we were at home in a house without infestation, I stopped my weird antics: no longer turned my clothes wrong side out before putting them on, stopped shaking my towel before using it, didn’t knock out or peek into my shoes before putting my foot in, didn’t check under the bed covers to make sure spiders weren’t there….

And, three times in the past 3 months, I have been bitten…by something and I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s a spider…a spider that’s unseen.

In my 55 years of existence, I’ve been bitten a total of 5 times. The first time was as a teen while camping with my family.  My tennis shoes were siting on the rocky shore of the lake I was swimming in, and when I exited the water slipped my bare foot into one of the shoes and received a sharp pinch on my big toe.  With a yelp, I snatched off my shoe and tapped it upside down on the ground.  A wolf spider fell out. It ran one way, I ran another.

15 years later, the next bite happened when I was trying on clothes – Autumn had arrived and it was time to see what, if anything, in my closet still fit.  I knew better than to stick my arm into long sleeves I’d not worn for many months…Brown Recluse spiders infested our house.  I felt it as soon as it happened – a sharp pinch and a sting on my upper left arm.  No spider was found, but I was definitely bitten.

“Always look.  Anticipate the unseen.”  That was my motto ever since that first spider bite so long ago.  And, with all the houses we’ve lived in with poisonous spider infestations, it was a good motto to have – so what if I became a little obsessive/compulsive about it?

Three bites within three months.  Spider bites?  Yes, I’m certain.  Type of spider? Of that I’m uncertain.

My latest bite occurred yesterday. At least that’s when it was first seen.  Hubby saw it on my lower back and asked what had bitten me.  I was unaware that anything had.  The previous two bites were painful and I knew when they happened.  This bite, I was unaware of until he mentioned it.  It was numb to the touch and when I looked at it in a mirror, it was blood red and puffy.  This morning it has increased in size and itches – I can tell that just by touch.  I’ve not looked at it yet, but Hubby has and he said it’s a lot larger than it was yesterday.

So – today I will clean out my closet and change the sheets on our bed.  I’ll clear out anything that could harbor a spider and grab my bottle of spider killer and spritz it wherever I dare. And, I’ll coat a bandage with black drawing salve** and ask Hubby to slap it over my bite (since I can’t easily see it and it’s impossible for me to attend to it).

And, from now on I will look for the unseen, anticipate the unknown and be obsessive/compulsive about making sure there are no spiders in my clothes or in my bed.

Creepy crawlies, beware – I’m on to you!


*pastors tend to move often

**Ichthammol Ointment 20% is great for insect and spider bites

6 thoughts on “Unseen

  1. I found this blog while searching fire ants + drawing salve. Great read! You’re a braver woman than me living with all those different creepy crawlies. I’ll stop whining about my 3 measly little fire ant bites now.

      • Never heard of Afterbite. I’ll look it up! Thanks. Baking soda paste is always good. My “go to” is always Desert Essence Lavender and Tea Tree oil. I use it on everything. Even had a brown recluse bite that healed wonderfully making a paste of the oil with menuka honey. Thinking I’ll do the same with these bites. Just didnt want to do anything to open up the blisters/pustuals if im not suppose to. These things hurt! Thanks again for the info!

      • Opening the blisters/pustulars can allow bacteria in and cause an infection – they dry up in a couple of days on their own. If they are simply too painful to wait it out, a very warm, damp compress will help promote healing and will allow the pustulars to drain. If this is your first sting(s) you may find that your reaction to them lessens over time (unless you are allergic to them). I am intrigued by menuka honey, Tee Tree oil and Desert Essence Lavender. These are new to me. I’m eager to hear more!

      • The risk of infection in draining the pustuals was why I was looking for info on using a drawing salve. It’s gentler, less trauma to the skin and less likely to cause infection. I think Im going to wait it out a few more days..they seem to be looking and feeling better. Been 5 days, still have pustuals and still itches but much better. Yeah, look up medicinal Manuka honey. It’s used topically as an antibacterial and healing agent. Tea tree is an antiseptic and lavender soothes the skin and takes the itch away. I’ve been an esthetician for 17 years and when I had my own skin care studio I used a lot of natural products and oils to treat the skin. I used drawing salves and honey quite a bit to treat acne.

      • Wow – I looked up Manuka honey. Amazing stuff! Something I like, but can’t find anymore, is the old adult Clearasil that contains sulfur. I’ve used that stuff on lots of things. Where do you obtain your supply and how do you make sure they are the real thing? How are your fireant stings?

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