A Doug's Life: He's Still Somewhere Out There, Watching Me

About five months ago, I wrote a column in this space titled "I'll Get You, You Rascal," about my efforts to track down the raccoon, or gopher, or whatever the heck was tunneling through my back yard.

Never did find the little guy, and the tunnels are still out there. But as you can see from the photo above, we had a new type of visitor the other night.

It started with a scream from our daughter Jill, who had wandered onto the front driveway in her bare feet about 9 p.m. "Tarantula!" she shrieked.

"Now there's a new one," I thought, racing out into the front yard. "Finally! The desert produces a real critter."

In my 11 months as a resident of Menifee, I have not seen one snake. Not that I would know what to do if I found one, but this is the edge of the desert -- if you ask me -- so I sort of expected it. I've seen a few rabbits, one coyote, a frog, zero scorpions and zero prairie dogs. Lots of sheep (see a previous column) and zillions of horses, but how exotic are those creatures? C'mon, at least give me a roadrunner or two!

So when the "tarantula" call went out the other night, I was curious to see one in person for the only time other than during visits to those dark little rooms at the zoo.

By the time I got outside, Jill was pointing to the other side of the pickup truck. Sure enough, there he was. OK, so I have no idea if it was a he or a she, but it's a he in my book. I wasn't about to try and figure that one out.

The first thing I noticed -- he moves pretty slow. About five inches across, from the end of one hairy leg to the end of another, he was headed for the garage door. Run for the hills, Jill! If he can scale that door, your bedroom window is next.

But alas, the ugly little thing couldn't negotiate the slippery surface, so he was content to crawl along the base of the garage door, seemingly not irritated by the cell phone camera light I was now shining in his face.

Later, I got various bits of advice from folks about what I should've done -- everything from shooting him to dousing him with bug spray to picking him up with a shovel and transporting him the heck out of there. Instead, I walked off and let him alone -- after checking all the doors and windows, of course.

Yes, he's out there somewhere, perhaps waiting for his chance. But I don't think I'm the prey. Maybe my dog will get him. Maybe he'll get my dog.

Or maybe he'll take out the gopher. If so, he's a hero in my book.


  1. i just got bit by some kind of spider they are assuming,whole top of hand is swollen and my middle finger keeps popping out of joint,whatever it was it hit me with one heck of a punch,on 2 antibiotics and is still swollen

  2. I found one in my living room about a month ago... I had left my balcony door open and was watching tv in the dark and saw this huge black shadow ans when I turned the light on there it was. I have never seen a spider that big in my life until I moved here to Menifee. I'm not really sure I wanna see another anytime soon.

  3. Doug, you should come out to the Gymkhana at theWooden Nickel Ranch in Menifee tomorrow!! You'd have a blast!

  4. Just wait 'till you see some Black Widow's. If you see them I highly recommend you KILL them.

  5. Hi Doug. I'm pretty sure it's a female from her size and abdomen size. I'm glad you left her to go on her way. They provide a very valuable service to our Eco-system out her and they are not really dangerous to humans unless you mess with them. The bite can hurt, but not really do anything much past that since their venom is meant for much smaller critters than us. We have raised several species of tarantula that we acquired from places like LLL Reptile.

  6. i live out by the hills off of murrieta road & chambers in menifee...we have tarantulas AND scorpions AND snakes here. Growing up i lived off of newport road in a housing track not surrounded by hills, i had never in my growing up life seen one until i moved to the "outskirts". The tarantula i met seemed harmless also...just scary looking!

  7. Over the years I've dealt with all of them, many in the house. I had a tarantula that kept coming in the family room for several nights in a row. You drop a light towel over them and roll it up and take them outside to turn loose. Doesn't hurt either of you. You said he was slow, but if you had scared him he most likely would have jumped straight up. :-) If a critter comes on the property that I don't want here, it's caught and removed to the local hills. It's their home too and none of them want interaction with humans. Leave them be and they will leave you alone too. For those that can't deal with this or think that the only answer is to kill, please move back to the city.

  8. T

    Yeah, as horrified as I may be coming across such as big ass spider... I know that tarantulas are "harmless", had a California King Snake in my back yard a couple years back... almost killed it until I learned what it was and its benefits...

    I would only kill the ones that could potentially kill me back or cause severe problems (Rattles, black widows and such) and only if well within my domain, meaning, I'm not gonna go out the fields killing them, just those that make it into my arm's reach.