Friday, January 16, 2009

The cup and card method

I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with the ol' "cup and card" method of catching bugs, but I'm quite the pro at it. Today I used a modified version of this procedure to catch the following creature: a yellow sac spider, something which most of you have probably seen running around your house or office. Yecch.

The reason I caught it rather than killed it is simple. I'm a weirdly sympathetic person, and I have a motto when it comes to insects and other creatures: If you attack me, I'll attack you back. But otherwise I'll leave you be. Now, if you happen to make a sudden appearance on my cubicle wall while I'm daydreaming about my latest shoe cravings, well, that's a situation I need to diffuse asap, know what I'm saying? I do have a few exceptions, among them mosquitos, ticks, and leeches, because given half a chance, these creatures will do anything in their power to attack me, so I must be on the offensive in these situations. But for any other critters I prefer to be a bit more forgiving.

That's where the cup and card method comes in. I just grab something cup-like (clear cups are the best, so I can make sure the little critter is contained) and some sort of card or thick paper to seal off the open end of the container. Then I simply place the cup over the creepy crawly thing and quickly slide the card under the cup, catching the little bugger in a neat little package. I'm not squeamish or easily creeped out by most creatures, but spiders like the one above give me a small case of the willies. Especially when they are about two feet from my face and moving at a rapid clip toward my bare hand. So these sorts of situations are a "code red" for me, and the sooner I catch the offending creature and deposit him somewhere else (usually outside), the happier we both will be.

Well, this particular specimen had been spotted last week on my cube wall, but I wasn't fast enough to catch him. But today I got that rare second chance, and I was ready this time. I whirled around and grabbed my proofreading lupe, which is an ideal container as far as cup and carding goes. Not only can you see into the container to make sure the creature is still there, but you can also look through the magnifying end and check him (her?) out in high-def detail, if you are so inclined. Curiosity usually gets the better of me and so of course I peer into the lupe, grossing myself out yet fascinated at the same time.

This has also revealed a couple of instances where I THOUGHT I had caught a particularly icky spider (and a few nasty gigantic centipedes too), but it was NOT in the container. This almost always results in me jumping about 12 feet backwards and emitting a girlish squeal of terror, hands furiously swatting at clothing, hair, and any exposed orifices.

But I I caught this fat little ball of arachnid and kept him contained on a little side table near my desk, ready for public viewing for those who might be curious like me. And at the end of the day, did I take the spider outside and let him go in the parking lot, to fend for himself (herself?) among all the snow, ice, and frigid temperatures? Oh ho ho, no, not me. No, I brought my little captive with me IN MY CAR, still contained, mind you, and brought him home so that I could release him into the relative warmth of my garage.

Are you crazy??? you ask. Not really. I figure it's the middle of winter and I have no reason to be going into the garage (it's detached from the house). And in return for his (her?) never ending gratitude in being spared, the spider will help out our household and clean up any nasties living in there—especially earwigs, which remind me of those horrible brain-eating creatures that Kahn (a.k.a. Christopher Plummer) has his men put in Checkov's ear in Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn. Go to town on those earwigs, I say! They are nothing but trouble, and are not very nice to my roses, either.

Anyhow, I've been ridiculed for this many a time, but I stick with my beliefs and keep on a-cuppin' and a-cardin'. I prefer to think that being merciful to all these minute marauders will somehow grant me a little bit of good karma among all the dark creatures of the world. And maybe the next time one of them feels like biting me, or popping up in my shoe (or worse yet, my hair), it'll pause and think of that human that the insects and spiders all talk about in hushed tones, the one who doesn't use the great big flat squashing thing on them (i.e., the sole of my shoe) and instead shows a little compassion and perhaps a wee bit of insanity. They'll remember their second chance at life and perhaps move on their way, looking for something else less merciful to prey on...

Yes, I am a big nerd, I realize this.


Char said...

I won't kill them either - I figure they are good in the summer for eating flies and other bugs. So I put them outside...usually at the end of a broom if I can.

Katie said...

*geek mode on*

It was the late great Riccardo Montelban who played KAAAHHHHNNNNN, not Christopher "Captain Von Trapp" Plummer. (Plummer played a Klingon in a later movie if I remember right)

*geek mode off*

Gods, and I wonder why I'm still single???? *sigh*

And I'm both fascinated and repulsed by spiders, too! In my apartment I live by the rule "if I or the cats can't reach you and you stay out of my way, you can live. Come within arm's reach and you're squished."


Chris said...

I stand corrected! That's something I knew but I dorked out on it. I think I thought of Plummer because he was featured in a Star Trek bio when I wrote that, playing that crazy Klingon, so I had Plummer on the brain...