The other day I found a black widow spider when I unfolded an exercise pad in the living room, a pad my wife had used earlier in the day. Never found one inside the house before except for one in our utility room by the hot water heater. Their bite can make a person pretty sick, but only one case of a person being bitten made the news in the last ten years. I’ve been under my house at least 15 times in 10 years and crawled all over that area where spiders are plentiful without seeing a black widow. They are a reclusive bug and try to stay hidden. If you grew up around them, you’d recognize its helter-skelter silk web that’s stronger than other spiders. The spider is also very easy to identify with its shiny black color and red hourglass marking
The webbing is a warning which is more than a friend had when he picked up a piece of firewood and a water moccasin bit him. His hand only swelled up a little because, as he learned from a paramedic, only a small amount of venom was injected. They explained that the snake can adjust the amount of venom and saw the hand as either a small target or used a small dose as a warning bite…
So county living in the south involves natural hazards. The number depends on housing density. My current neighborhood is a handful of houses with big lots on the James River. The density is low and the only two serious pests not seen or endured, so far, are a rattlesnake and a brown recluse spider. A prior home in a community of 150 homes on a small standard lot near a pond and tidal flats had a couple snakes and periodic hoards of mosquitoes and biting flies, nowhere near as much nature as the present home. Before that our place was in town, Newport News, not close to any water, and we were deprived of any undesirable critters.
County living here requires adjustments just as living at the beach, or in North Dakota. We live near water, so have more snakes, mosquitoes and biting flies. We’ve learned to appreciate non-poisonous snakes and spiders because they eat other, less desirable pests, like crickets, mice and rats. Actually, the poisonous snakes and spiders do the same thing, but make us more nervous. So of course it helps to pay attention where we put our hands and feet, especially in less trafficked areas.
Our dogs are less lucky at avoiding snakes so every couple years one gets bit. When this happens the affected part swells up and they hurt for a few days, then slowly recover. Usually the fur won’t grow back at the fang marks. Antivenom shots exist, but not much is available so it’s rationed for the sick folks and small children to whom snake bites can be fatal. The rest of us just get sick, ache and swell up where bitten.
I’m not sure what eats ticks, but wish there were more of them because they are plentiful during warm weather in the country. The reasons are probably because more wildlife is here, pets wander more freely, and so do people. Several serious diseases are spread to people by ticks along with mosquitoes, so protective measures and self-checking are important.
So why live where so many biting bugs, poisonous snakes and threats like rabies exist? Perhaps because despite the many natural hazards the only one to appear in the press on a regular basis is rabies, usually when found in a raccoon or fox, about once a month, but for a pretty large area.
One guy liked it here in the country because he could mow his lawn on a riding mower in the nude, or at least until passersby complained. His property and the lawn location were too far from public roads for anyone to be sure he was naked, but close enough for people make an educated guess, I guess.